Workers on Long Island and throughout the New York City area seek help from attorneys, like the ones at Leeds Brown Law, P.C., when they believe their employers are shortchanging them or withholding pay. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that protects the rights of employees to earn at least the federal minimum wage, to earn overtime, to retain all money to which the employee is entitled. New York State and New York City also have laws governing wages and hours that match and often exceed the worker protections the FLSA provides.
Employment and labor laws unequivocally state that wages belong to employees. When an employer doesn’t pay overtime, steals tips or otherwise commits wage theft, there are ways to recover the money that rightfully belongs in your pocket.
Attorneys at Leeds Brown have substantial experience counseling Long Island employees who wish to file unpaid wage claims. We have represented thousands of hard working people and helped them to secure positive outcomes when their employers withhold or steal pay. Violations of wage and hour laws are far too common, and the best way to protect your rights is to understand them. We can counsel you about your unpaid wage claim and help you to recover back pay, overtime, gratuities, and other compensation to which you may be entitled.
minimum wages that are on schedule to increase yearly through 2022, and it is the higher wage that prevails in any given situation. There are few exceptions to the requirement to pay employees minimum wage.
At times, however, an employer may not pay someone for all the hours she works which results in a decrease in the hourly rate, making it fall below the minimum wage. Other times, an employer simply offers a smaller hourly amount of pay and the worker accepts because he desperately needs the job. Either way, the employee is legally entitled to receive the full amount of minimum wage for the hours spent working.
Employers are required to compensate employees for all of the time they spend performing work. Overtime refers to all hours worked more than 40 in a given workweek. When an employee who is not exempt from overtime works more than 40 hours per week, the employer must pay at least one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay for the extra hours.
Some businesses go to great lengths to avoid paying overtime by purposefully misclassifying employees as administrators or executives to render them exempt from overtime requirements. Others just refuse to pay for the extra hours employees work, citing a “reason” that has no merit. For instance, an employer may say that it did not give permission to work overtime and, therefore, is not obligated to pay. An employer may tell workers that it is not required to pay overtime for mandatory evening training sessions added on to the workday. There are even companies who blatantly “shave” hours and simply don’t count them.
Failing to pay employees overtime is a serious violation of the law and companies often have to pay monetary compensation, in addition to the unpaid wages. Employers may be forced to pay liquidated damages, civil penalties, and attorney’s fees.
Tip theft is a significant problem for hospitality and food service workers. In New York State,, gratuities belong to employees. Managers, owners, and non-tipped workers are not entitled to a piece of tips even though employers often try to establish unlawful “tip pools” that employees must share. A tip pool is legal only when all of the workers involved are those who regularly receive tips. For instance, a valid tip pool in a restaurant may include food servers and bartenders but may not include the dishwasher or line cook.
New York allows an employer to “take” part of a tip in one situation; when a customer leaves a tip on a credit card, the employer is permitted to pro-rate the fee charged by the credit card company and deduct the comparable amount from the tip. This money is not going to the employer, it is technically going to the credit card company.
An employee protection somewhat unique to hospitality workers in New York and Long Island is that any service charge added to a bill, is presumed to be a tip and belongs to the worker. Only if the customer receives explicit notification that the service worker will not be the recipient of the money, can the employer take the gratuity.
Also, there are tip-credit rules that allow companies to pay tipped workers less than minimum wage for their hourly rate. The formula for this can be confusing, and employers often end up applying tip credits improperly and paying workers less than what is legally required.
There are endless ways that employers underpay workers. Sometimes it is by blatantly violating the overtime rules of the FLSA or refusing to turn over tips that are legally part of wages. Other times it may by refusing to pay for the 15 minutes you are required to spend on the business premises getting ready for work. No matter how small the amount may seem, even minimal withholdings of earnings add up.
You may want to try to resolve a small problem by speaking with your supervisor, human resources or payroll department first. It is possible there was an innocent oversight or clerical error and the problem can be rectified easily. If there are formal company procedures you must follow, be sure to do so.
If you and your employer cannot resolve the issues, consider contacting Leeds Brown, experienced unpaid wage attorneys representing clients on Long Island, throughout New York and across the nation. You have rights to the money you earn, and we can help you enforce them. We can also assist you if your employer retaliates against you in any way as a result of your unpaid wage claim, such as by demoting or firing you or stealing additional wages.
We have decades of experience protecting employees’ rights in unpaid wage, unpaid overtime, and tip-theft claims. Contact us for additional information and to find out if you have a valid claim against your employer. You can reach Long Island unpaid wage lawyers at 1-800-555-4658 24/7.