New York City restaurants are in the news a lot these days, and not because of stellar food reviews. It seems like allegations against restaurants of unpaid wages, and sexual harassment has become the norm. With thousands of eateries and bars in our area, perhaps it should not surprise us how many employees are filing cases claiming their employers are violating their rights. At least one establishment is going to be paying a steep price to its workers.
A New York ABC News 7 on your side investigative report by Danielle Leigh, revealed that because of a November 3, 2017, verdict in the Southern District of New York, a New York pizza restaurant will have to pay workers more than $2 million in unpaid overtime and minimum wages. The Defendants will also have to pay attorney’s fees. The restaurant, located on the upper west side in Manhattan, is the reincarnation of a neighborhood favorite that had to close its doors in 2013.
The six employee-Plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in Sept 2016 against Big Nick’s Burger Joint and Pizza Joint Too (Nick’s). The complaint, according to ABC News, claimed that the owners of the restaurant forced the employees to work six days per week and more than 80 hours per week. The employees alleged they did not receive any overtime pay but instead got paid a flat salary. According to court papers, their salaries sometimes resulted in hourly earnings of less than $6.00 per hour. This amount is far less than the legal minimum wage in New York City.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the national minimum wage and overtime rules. The minimum wage is the lowest hourly rate employers in any state may pay employees for their work. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
State governments may, and many do, pass minimum wage laws that require employers to pay MORE than the federal amount. New York is one such state. The minimum wage you receive in New York State varies based on the location of your job and, at times, the size, and type of your employer. The basic minimum wage guidelines issued by the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) are below:
|NYC – Large Employers (of 11 or more)||$11.00||$13.00||$15.00|
|NYC – Small Employers (10 or less)||$10.50||$12.00||$13.50||$15.00|
|Long Island & Westchester||$10.00||$11.00||$12.00||$13.00||$14.00||$15.00|
|Remainder of New York State||$9.70||$10.40||$11.10||$11.80||$12.50|
Fast food workers, those who work for large food chains, have a different minimum wage rate schedule as to do employees who regularly receive tips. The minimum wage chart for fast food workers is below:
|Date||New York City||Rest of the State|
The minimum wage chart for tipped employees in the hospitality industry:
The FLSA requires employers to pay overtime to workers who work more than 40 hours per workweek. Overtime is 1 ½ times the regular rate of pay. For every hour you work over 40 in a workweek, you should receive time-and-a-half.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, but the majority of employees are entitled to overtime pay. If you are an employee who receives a certain salary and performs executive, managerial, or professional duties, you may be exempt.
Employers go out of their way to avoid paying overtime and other legal wages because it is costly! Employers often shave hours, misclassify employees as exempt, or flat-out refuse to pay the correct wages. Some hope that their employees will keep quiet and accept what they get out of fear of repercussions. Most employees need their jobs and won’t speak up because they fear retaliation, although it is illegal.
The jury in the case against Nick’s recognized that the employees who filed the lawsuits were entitled to receive their overtime pay. Salary alone is not enough to make an employee exempt from overtime. The flat rate the employees received, spread over the number of hours they were working also brought their hourly rate well below the legal minimum. With any luck, the employees will receive the $2 million Nick’s has been ordered to pay them.
During its investigation, ABC News learned that on average there have been “one to two labor standards complaints filed a day in the Southern District of New York alone.” New York City seems to be a hotbed for unpaid wage concerns.
According to the 2017 State of Workers’ Rights Report, published by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, some of this is due to a large number of low-wage jobs and immigrant workers. The report concluded that “Low-wage immigrant workers in New York are more than twice as likely as other low-wage workers in the city to experience minimum wage violations.” The report also found that a large percentage of home care aides, including those in child care, do not get paid legal wages.
Perhaps the most staggering statistic cited in the report is that “From 2013-2015, an estimated $965 million was stolen annually from New York State residents in the form of minimum wage violations. This amounts to 22.8 percent of the wages owed to the affected workers.” Clearly, our residents are not receiving everything the law mandates.
If your employer is not paying you legal wages such as overtime or minimum wage, you have rights. Contact Leeds Brown Law, P.C. to begin the process of enforcing them. We can help you figure out how much money your employer owes you and the best way to secure what belongs to you. If your employer has fired you because you tried to collect your legal wages, we can help with that too.
Call Leeds Brown, filing unpaid wage lawsuits for employees in New York City and the surrounding area, for a free case evaluation. Someone is here to speak to you 24/7. Call today – 1-800-585-4658.