A recent opinion article published in the New York Daily News reminds us just how difficult it can be for employees of a particular industry to obtain fair wages. The piece was penned by a self-proclaimed “Carwashero,” an employee at a car wash in Queens who explains to readers the obstacles he and his coworkers face while trying to secure the legally applicable minimum wages.
Without getting into details, the author points out car wash workers fall under New York’s Miscellaneous Industry Wage Order. Carwasheros belong to the classification of tipped workers and, as such, their employers are entitled to pay them a lower cash minimum wage. Employers of tipped workers are allowed to apply a tip credit to bring the amount of pay up to the full minimum wage. In other words, employers can use a portion of the tips which, when added to the lower cash wage, equal the full minimum wage.
In addition to working hours that are extremely unpredictable, the writer points out some problems with this model that workers in his, and perhaps other, tipped industries may face:
Allegations of wage theft including minimum wage violations and unpaid overtime plague the car wash industry and not just in New York. Some people suggest that the tip credit simply does not work in this particular industry; that customer tips are simply too unpredictable and a large number of immigrant workers who labor at car washes may be unusually susceptible to employer intimidation.
The laws that demand employers pay minimum wage and overtime also provide remedies for employees who are victims of wage theft. Understanding your rights is the first step toward making sure you secure your unpaid wages. Carwasheros across the nation have filed unpaid wage claims, and the Attorney General of New York has taken a particular interest in eliminating wage theft in this industry. The cases thus far have yielded hundreds of thousands of dollars for victims of wage theft and other labor law violations.
If you are a tipped employee at a car wash or in any other industry, the attorneys at Leeds Brown Law, P.C. can help you and your coworkers if you have experienced wage theft. Contact our lawyers, representing employees in New York City, Long Island and the surrounding counties if you think your employer owes you minimum wage or overtime pay.
You can reach our office 24/7 by calling 1-800-585-4658.