Our Employment Lawyers Help Workers Collect Unpaid Wages, Overtime & Tips
Do You Have an Unpaid Wage Claim? Employment Lawyers Help Employees Collect
Attorneys at Leeds Brown Law, P.C. concentrate on recovering unpaid wages for workers in New York and throughout the United States. Violations of state and federal wage and hour laws occur in many different ways, and the victims are often the hardest working employees. At times, violations are unintentional, the result of employers who simply do not understand the rules and regulations that govern how to pay their workers. On other occasions, violations are willful, motivated by business owners who fail to follow the laws.
The Fair Labor Standards Act is the federal law that protects your right to earn at least the federal minimum wage, to receive pay for every hour you work, to keep your tips, and to limit deductions from your paycheck. New York has other laws that provide additional protections such as a higher minimum wage for many workers., unused vacation pay and more.
When an employer fails to pay the proper amount of wages to an employee, an unpaid wage claim may result. Some typical examples of wage violations include:
- Paying below minimum wage
- Not paying for all hours worked
- Not paying for overtime earned
- Not giving tips to employees
- Taking unlawful deductions from a paycheck
If you feel that your employer is not paying you the entire amount of money to which you are entitled, consider contacting the experienced unpaid wage lawyers at Leeds Brown. Our legal professionals dedicate themselves to recovering monetary compensation for the many workers who fall victim to their employers’ violations of wage and hour laws.
Study Indicates Startling Number of Wage Violations in New York City
A study conducted in 2008 with the help of the National Employment Law Project, concluded that wage violations in NYC’s low-wage labor market occur with great frequency. Findings included:
- Over 20% of those surveyed received less than the legally required minimum wage in the previous workweek
- More than 75% of respondents who were eligible for overtime pay, did not receive it
- Of the tipped workers surveyed, nearly 40% received less than the minimum wage rate required for tipped workers
- Almost 70% of employees surveyed who in the previous workweek stayed after shift or came in before shift to perform work, did not receive wages for the work done outside their regular shift
- For over 30% of the workers surveyed who reported pay deductions, the deductions were unlawful
This particular study surveyed only New York City low-wage workers, but the problem of unpaid wages spans across all businesses in all localities. Since 2009, the wage-hour division of the US Department of Labor has helped workers recover nearly 1.6 billion dollars in unpaid wages. Violations of state and federal wage-hour laws affect employees nationwide.
Employers not Paying Minimum Wage Violate the Law
Employers must pay employees at least the minimum wage. The federal minimum wage is $7.25. New York State and New York City have higher minimum wage standards, and it is the highest amount that prevails.
The hourly minimum wage rate for a tipped employee is lower than non-tipped employees. Tips must be sufficient when added to the lower hourly rate to meet the mandated minimum wage. If the addition of tips and the lower hourly rate do not equal at least the mandated minimum wage, the employer must increase pay to make up the difference.
When an employer pays less than the minimum hourly rate as required by law, an employee is entitled to seek to recover the money they have rightfully earned.
Employees Should Receive Wages for all Hours Spent Working
Employers violate the law when they do not pay employees for every hour they perform work. Employers may refuse to count particular time as “paid time” even though the law requires them to do so. For example, has your employer asked you to work “off the clock” before or after your shift? Has your company refused to pay you for mandatory training time or meetings? Have you been told to work through lunch or breaks with no pay?
If you answered yes to any of these, you might have an unpaid wage claim against your employer.
New York Lawyers Help Recover Unpaid Overtime
Under the FLSA and NYS laws, employers must pay time-and-a-half (overtime) to most workers who put in more than 40 hours in a workweek. Employers violate overtime rules in countless ways including:
- Wrongly classifying workers as exempt from overtime under the administrative, executive or professional exemptions
- Shaving hours to make workers ineligible for overtime pay
- Forcing employees to work “off the clock” to avoid working more than 40 hours
- Refusing to pay employees overtime only because they are salaried
Paying overtime to eligible workers is a legal obligation. When employers refuse to abide, intentionally or not, they may be required to reimburse employees for all unpaid overtime.
Tips and Gratuities Belong to Employees, not Employers
Tips and gratuities are the property of employees. Tipped employees, in the hospitality and food service industries, especially, depend on tips to supplement the lower hourly minimum wage they receive. Employers, in almost all circumstances, may not keep any portion of tips for themselves.
In New York, the exception to this rule occurs when a customer leaves a tip on a credit card. The employer may prorate the credit card company’s service charge and take it from the tip. In New York as well, unless the business notifies the customer otherwise, any service charge added to a bill, must go to the employees.
At times, employees may be required to participate in a tip pool. A tip pool is a gratuity sharing arrangement that is legal if set up correctly. A tipped employee should not be told to share tips with any non-tipped employee. A tip pool that includes non-tipped workers or management is probably not valid. For example, a legal tip pool in a restaurant may include wait staff, bartenders, and busboys but not cooks or dishwashers.
Employment law attorneys at Leeds Brown are skilled at successfully recovering unpaid wages, unpaid overtime, withheld tips and other monies illegally denied employees in every corner of New York and beyond. Our track record and reputation prove that our dedicated team has the experience and tenacity needed to help workers secure every dollar they deserve. If your employer owes you money, call us for a free consultation.
Contact Leeds Brown, one of New York’s top wage and overtime law firms. Someone is in our office to take your call 24/7 at 1-800-585-4658.