New York has an unique wage rule that applies to hourly employees in restaurants and non-resort hotels. New York’s Hospitality Industry Wage Order as amended and effective December 31, 2016, contains the codes, rules, and regulations regarding minimum wages and overtime for employees in those industries. Section 146-1.6 of the provisions is titled “Spread of hours greater than 10 in restaurants and all-year hotels.” This rule applies to specific employees under very particular circumstances.
The “spread of hours” is “the length of the interval between the beginning and end of an employee’s workday.” It includes work time, meal times and off-duty intervals. For example:
Your spread of hours is important because when it exceeds 10, your employer must pay you one additional hour of pay at the basic minimum wage. This money is not a payment for doing work. It is a premium on top of your regular wage and any overtime you receive. It is “extra” because your spread of hours was longer than 10 hours. You don’t get more if your spread of hours is 12 instead of 11. You should receive 1 hours’ worth of pay at minimum wage when your spread of hours is more than 10.
The spread of hours rule is for the benefit of all non-exempt, hourly restaurant employees, and employees of year-round hotels because they often work split-shifts.
It might not sound like much – one hour of pay at the minimum wage rate. You might not miss it right away, but it can add up. But the law requires employers to pay this money, and it belongs to employees. Withholding spread of hours pay is stealing wages.
According to court documents, Wuistong Mendoza (Mendoza) was a busser at Rana USA LLC d/b//a Rana Pastificio & Cucina (Rana Pastificio) from July 2013 until July 2017. In his complaint, Mendoza claims that he regularly worked double shifts and the spread of hours interval was from 11am-10pm, which is 11 hours. He also claims that he would at times cover shifts for other employees. On those days, his spread of hours also exceeded 10.
Mendoza alleged that he never received a single spread of hours premium payment during the entire four years of his employment. The class action seeks spread of hours pay for Mendoza and all similarly situated current and former employees of Rana Pastificio. There is no indication in the court papers as to the exact number of plaintiffs expected to join the class, but there have been “hundreds of employees” who have worked at Rana Pastificio during the period in question.
Sifting through four years of shift schedules for potentially hundreds of workers is a big job. It might be that the restaurant owes Mendoza and those he represents a few hundred dollars or several thousand. Hopefully, Mendoza and other hard-working employees in the restaurant industry will secure the spread of hours payments, and any additional wages, that belong to them.
Remember, wages belong to employees, not employers. When your employer does not pay you what the law requires, it is stealing. It is wage theft. In the hospitality industry, especially in New York City restaurants, wage theft is a wide-spread problem. Unfortunately, wage theft affects a disproportionately large number of workers who already earn low wages.
If you are an employee in a restaurant or year-round hotel, you have the right to receive a spread of hours premium when your day is longer than 10 hours, regardless of how much or how little your ordinary pay is. Violating New York’s spread of hours law is one small way employers take advantage of employees. Other ways restaurants and many businesses commit wage theft include:
If you work in a restaurant in New York City, be on the lookout for wage theft. If you work in any industry and your employer is not paying you legal wages, contact Leeds Brown Law, P.C., attorneys representing workers in New York. We have spent years collecting unpaid wages for hard-working employees in and around New York City and Long Island. The money you earn belongs in your pocket, and we can help you understand your rights to recover it.
Call Leeds Brown now and learn more about collecting all the money you work hard to earn. You can reach someone 24/7 at 1-800-585-4658 and ask about getting a free evaluation of your claim to recover your unpaid wages.