In November of 2016, the voters of Arizona chose to enact the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act. This enactment effectively amended the Arizona Minimum Wage Act to incrementally increase the minimum wage starting on January 1, 2017.
Additionally, the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act also stipulated that Arizona workers shall have the legal right to accrue and use paid sick time benefits each year. This provision took effect on July 1, 2017.
In other words, both of these Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act requirements have now taken effect, meaning Arizona employers are required to adhere to these labor laws. What happens, then, if an Arizona employer has yet to update their employment contract to reflect these legal changes?
Can Employment Contracts Conflict With the New Arizona Employee Rights Law?
Fortunately, the new Act is quite clear that employers cannot draft employment contracts in such a way that ignores or waives these new employee rights. Specifically, the Act clearly states that “no verbal or written agreement or employment contract may waive any rights” granted to employees under the Act, a notion reinforced by the Industrial Commission of Arizona’s helpful FAQ concerning the Act.
The simple takeaway is that while an employment contract can pay you more than the Arizona state’s minimum wage or can provide you with more paid sick time, an employment contract may not undercut these new labor requirements.
Employers who implement employment contracts that conflict with the new law are violating the law of Arizona. As such, employees who are affected by an unlawful employment contract have a few legal options.
Legal Rights of Arizona Employees Affected by Unlawful Employment Contracts
If an Arizona employee believes an employer violated the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act with an unlawful contract, the employee may file a lawsuit against the employer and/or file a complaint with the Labor Department of the Industrial Commission of Arizona.
Indeed, merely making a complaint against the employer does not require an individual to be employed. Filing an administrative complaint with the Labor Department that alleges a minimum wage or paid sick time violation can be made by any person or organization.
Filing a lawsuit, however, requires an individual to be harmed by the employer’s Act violation. In most cases, that means an employee. Workers who have been harmed by an unlawful contract that violates the Act must file a civil lawsuit within two years of the last violation, or three years if the employer’s violation was willful.
Given the recent implementation of these legal changes, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit has not expired for any employee who has been affected by a minimum wage or paid sick time violation.
As such, it is in the best interests of any Arizona employee who has been harmed by an employer’s violation to reach out to an Arizona employment lawyer. Arizona employers are not allowed to discriminate or retaliate in any way against employees who assert any legal rights given to employees by the Act.
Should any adverse action be taken against employees within 90 days of asserting a legal right, there is a legal presumption that the employer was retaliating against the employee.
Contact us online for an initial consultation to take the first step toward protecting your legal rights as an Arizona employee.