You Worked for It – Now Get Paid for It
The term “wage and hour” in New York City refers to any issues that relate to employee classifications and employee pay. Employees are entitled to certain payroll rights and benefits under the law. When employers attempt to avoid their taxes and save money, the first thing they try to do is attack those rights. For over 25 years, the Derek Smith Law Group in New York City has fought for employees to make sure they receive the compensation they deserve.
Wage and hour laws help protect employees from being unwilling volunteers. Employees work in order to receive a paycheck. Taking time away from their personal time, friends, and family to go to work would often be pointless if they did not receive the compensation they deserve. Yet, many employers attempt to cut corners by misclassifying employees, denying them overtime pay, or taking deductions from their paychecks. This is illegal. The laws are in place to ensure that employees bring home a paycheck for the time they work or the money they are promised by their employer.
The federal law that establishes minimum wage and overtime pay is known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). However, in New York City, the employers must abide by the minimum wage standards set forth by the New York Labor Standards Department, which is $15 per hour for employers with 11 or more employees in the City, $12 an hour in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, and $11.10 an hour for the rest of New York for anyone not in the hospitality industry.
The law also states who can and cannot be considered exempt from receiving overtime pay (the difference between salaried and hourly employees). Under the FSLA, a person making $455 per week or more can be salaried instead of hourly and exempt from overtime pay. However, the New York Labor Standards Departments states that an employee in a company of 11 or more employees in New York City borders must earn $1,1125 a week ($58,500 a year) to be exempt. In the city, a firm with 10 or fewer employees must pay exempt employees $1,012.50 per week or more. The standard in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties is $900 per week and the remainder of New York state is $832 per week. Under the laws in New York City, anyone who is classified as a non-exempt employee is to be paid 1.5 times their hourly rate for any hours worked over 40 hours during a workweek.
Finally, the New York Equal Pay Act makes it illegal for employers to pay make and females doing the same job, having the same classifications, and working the same amount of time within the company to be paid differently. This applies to all employers, whether they have 1 employee or 1,000 or more employees.
Wage and hour violation can be anything from not receiving overtime pay you are entitled to receive to being paid under the table, and anything in between. Some examples of wage and hour violations include:
- Being classified as an exempt employee while making under $58,500 a year in New York City
- Being paid straight time for hours worked over 40 hours in a pay week
- Being asked to work off the clock
- Being classified as an independent contractor when you are clearly an employee
- Being paid overtime as a tipped employee based on the tipped minimum wage instead of the actual minimum wage minus the tip credit
- Receiving less than minimum wage
- Being denied the spread of hours that allows an employee working two shifts spread over ten hours or more to be paid an extra hour plus overtime pay
- Receiving a pay statement that does not accurately reflect the hours you worked
- Being paid less money than your male counterpoint who started the same job at the same company on or around the same date as you simply because you are a woman
- Deductions from your paycheck that are not allowed by law, such as house fees in the service industry
- Deducting money for arriving late, ruining company property, miscalculations and errors in past paychecks, quitting, or having poor conduct
- Wrongful termination or retaliation for reporting a wage and hour violation to HR or a supervisor
While wage and hour laws are intended to protect most employees from being the scapegoat for their employer to save some money, some categories of employment are not protected under these laws:
- Companions for the sick or elderly
- Bona Fide executives, administrators, or professionals
- Outside salespeople
- Taxi drivers
- Volunteers to apprentices for charitable, religious, or education organizations
- Members of religious orders
- Students and Handicapped individuals employed with religious or charitable organizations
- Employees of a summer camp operated by a religious or charitable organization operating less than three months each year
- Staff counselors in children’s camps
- Employees of student or faculty associations or fraternities
- Employees of federal, state, or municipal governments or their subdivisions
- Volunteers at recreational or amusement events that run 8 days or less
As a victim of wage and hour violations, it may take you a bit to determine that your right shave been violated and then you will have to decide whether or not you want to file a complaint regarding these violations.
Under the FLSA, a person has 2 years to bring a claim for unpaid wages. Under the New York Labor Laws, the time limit is 6 years to file a claim for unpaid wages.
If you have a claim under the New York Equal Pay Act, you have six years to file a claim, however, under the federal law, it is only 3 years.
If you are filing a claim under the New York Equal Pay Act for a wage and hour violation, you are entitled to tribble damages, which are 3 times the damages you receive. For instance, if you are awarded $2 million, the New York Equal Pay Act can increase the award to $8 million.
There are other remedies available for wage and hour violations in New York City, such as:
- Reinstatement of employment/benefits
- Reimbursement of benefit premiums
- Reimbursement of related expenses
- Attorney’s fees
- Back pay
- Future pay
- Court costs
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages
Wage and hour violations can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months to resolve to one year or longer. If the employer is willing to negotiate a fair and acceptable settlement regarding the wage and hour violations, that will reduce the length of time your lawsuit lasts. As a result, your lawsuit may take 4 to 6 months to settle and you never have to see a judge.
However, if your employer refuses to negotiate a fair settlement prior to going to court, you will likely take at least a year preparing for trial and then a few days to a few weeks to argue your case and receive a judgment.
If you are the victim of wage and hour violations, there are a few things you can do as you are preparing to file a lawsuit of the compensation you deserve.
- Contact a New York City wage and hour attorney immediately
- Do not quit your job.
- If your company has an HR department, report the violation immediately
- Collect evidence of the violations. For instance, find and maintain all of your paystubs. Document the hours you worked, the days you worked, and try to obtain proof, such as a screenshot of your computer when you start and end your day. Make sure the screenshot includes the date and time. These kinds of documents and visual evidence can help prove your case.
Employees are meant to be compensated properly for the work they do. Without properly paying employees, an employer risks employees leaving quickly or not working as hard. Yet, many times employees are used as a scapegoat to save money that should be saved elsewhere. If you are the victim of wage and hour violations in New York City, the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group can help. Contact us today at (212) 587-0760 for your free consultation. We do not collect money until you win your case.