A: Neither Texas labor law nor the federal Fair Labor Standards Act restricts how many days in a row an adult employee can work or be requested to work. This is referred to as the “unlimited hours rule.” This means an employee could theoretically work for weeks without a day off. Under federal law, employers can require their employees age 16 and older to work unlimited hours per week, as long as they pay them at least minimum wage and overtime as necessary. In the absence of federal requirements, states can implement hour limits and prohibit employers from requiring their employees to work excessive hours.
In Texas, the Texas Labor Code contains maximum hour limitations for certain types of employees. The Texas Labor Code contains a mandatory day of rest requirement for retail employees. Retail employees can work up to six consecutive workdays without a day of rest. However, after retail employees have worked six days consecutively, employers must give them a consecutive 24-hour rest period. The day of rest law only applies to full-time retail employees.
A: You have a two-part question:
(1) Neither federal law or Texas state law require employers to provide employees with a lunch break. Employers choose whether to provide employees with a lunch break during a work shift. The only exception involves mothers who breastfeed. They must receive a lunch break of at least 30 minutes.
Yet, employers may not discriminate in permitting rest periods (“breaks” or “lunches”). This means an employer may not offer some employees rest periods based on sex, age, gender, national origin, religion, disability, or any other protected class. Yet, an employer could offer rest periods based upon a uniform policy, business needs, or productivity.
While lunch breaks are not mandatory, the Fair Labor Standards Act stipulates some general rules regarding lunch breaks and Texas state law mirrors these laws. Essentially, a break of 30 minutes or more constitutes a lunch break. Both federal and state law do not require employers to compensate employees for this time when employees are not engaged in work while eating. If an employer provides a break shorter than 30 minutes, it must be paid.
(2) Just because the Company labels you as an "independent contractor" does not necessarily mean you are one. Here is a link that discusses how the Texas Workforce Commission determines whether an individual is an employee vs. independent contractor. http://www.twc.state.tx.us/businesses/classifying-employees-independent-contractors
The link also provides ways to submit a claim if you believe you have been misclassified.
A: Neither Texas or Federal law prohibit an employer from retroactively modifying an employee's wages. However, the Texas Workforce Commission (“TWC”) apply common law principals to protect employees from retroactive wage reductions. When an employer retroactively reduces wages without notice to the employee, that employee can file a claim to recover the lost wages with the TWC. Here is a link to the TWC’s web page on wage claims. http://www.twc.state.tx.us/jobseekers/how-submit-wage-claim-under-texas-payday-law
Additionally, if you feel like you were misclassified as a salary employee from the start and work overtime hours during that time frame, you should contact an employment attorney to discuss further.