In March 2017, a class of former employees sued Saks Fifth Avenue in New York State Court for paying them less than minimum wages. This group of ex-full-time sales clerks, led by lead Plaintiff Amra Divljanovic, claimed that because Saks took unlawful deductions from their paychecks, the employees took home as little as $200 per week. The clerks worked at a wage rate of $15.00 per hour plus commissions. The allegedly unlawful deductions meant that the employees had to sell nearly triple the amount of merchandise to qualify for the commissions Saks promised them.
Employers may deduct certain monies from wages. For example, businesses regularly take payroll taxes, social security, and unemployment insurance out of their workers’ paychecks. In some instances, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows employers to deduct money for certain things like uniforms as long as doing so does not lower the employees’ hourly wage to under the legal minimum. Deductions should never bring their wages below the legally required minimum wage or overtime compensation.
The New York Attorney General’s (AG) office writes in its guidelines that in New York:
“No deductions may be made from wages paid to an employee except those required by law or government rules and regulations (e.g., payroll taxes, child support orders, wage garnishments), except those which are expressly authorized, in writing, by the employee and are for that employee’s benefit.”
The guidelines go on to say that an employer may not deduct wages for items an employee steals or breaks. The proper recourse in that situation is to use whatever civil or criminal remedies are available to the general public to try and secure money owed for the damaged or stolen goods. An employer may also not deduct wages for poor work performance during particular hours, or for any time that the employee actually works. An employer may not assess a penalty for lateness or absence but is permitted to withhold pay for any time during which an employee does not perform work.
As reported on by the New York Post, the employees alleged that Saks penalized them for various things not within their control by deducting large sums of money from their paychecks. According to the Post, the claims included:
The issue in this class action is whether or not Saks paid its employees in compliance with legal requirements. The complaint claims that the deductions were in direct violation of New York State labor law and the FLSA. According to the class, they regularly worked over 40 hours per work week and took home as little as $200-$400 in pay. The deductions Saks took, they say, were unlawful and took their pay well below the minimum wage.
It is unclear how much money the class is seeking to recover from Saks. A spokeswoman told the post that “We do not comment on matters before the court.” If the allegations are true, however, the group of employees may receive considerable compensation to make them whole and provide them with the money Saks owes them.
If your employer is not paying you the wages legally owed to you, contact Leeds Brown Law, P.C., unpaid wage lawyers in New York City. If you are owed minimum wage, overtime, tips or other wages, let us know. We can help you file a claim to recover the money you work hard to earn.
Unpaid wage attorneys at Leeds Brown can be reached 24/7 so call 1-800-585-4658 today.