Lawyers at Leeds Brown Law, P.C. know that if you perform work, you deserve to get paid for it. You have every right to expect that your employer will compensate you in compliance with state and federal wage and hour laws. When employers fail to do so in violation of their legal obligations, employees have recourse. When employers fall short of their mandated responsibilities, whether intentionally or even unintentionally, employees can pursue legal remedies. In unpaid wage cases, workers may receive back pay plus additional monetary compensation.
At Leeds Brown, our attorneys represent clients when they seek to recover unpaid wages, overtime and other earnings in New York City metropolitan area and across the nation. We assist individual workers to file claims that can also help groups of employees who wish to seek compensation through the class action process.
Our professionals have decades of experience and proven track records of securing beneficial outcomes for our clients through both settlement negotiation and litigation. Our team-based, hands-on approach to matters means that you receive personal, committed representation from lawyers who fight hard to get the results you deserve in your unpaid wage case.
No industry is immune from wage and hour violations. There is ample opportunity in nearly every business for an employer to violate one of the many laws that govern how to compensate employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law that requires employers to pay employees at least the federal minimum hourly wage and overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The FLSA and related decisions outline what it means to be an employee, what constitutes a workweek, what is and what is not compensable work time, and who is exempt from receiving overtime pay.
New York State and New York City also have wage and hour laws that complement the federal ones. When state and local laws offer employees more money, coverage, and protection, however, they prevail over the federal rules. For example, New York State and City have minimum wages that are higher than the national rate of $7.25 and the highest applicable amount is the wage that employers must pay.
Restaurant workers and other regularly tipped employees often find themselves needing to file claims to recover unpaid wages. Employers of waiters, waitresses, and other tipped workers, are allowed to apply a pre-determined tip credit to help meet the minimum hourly wage. That tip credit varies depending on the location and size of the employer.
For example, in New York City, the minimum wage is $11.00 per hour for a tipped food service worker employed by a Large Employer (defined as 11 or more employees). Employers may use a tip credit of $3.50 against the employees’ hourly wages; $3.50 of tips can be used toward meeting the minimum wage obligation. The employer, in this case, has to pay an hourly cash wage of $7.50. The overtime rate for the tipped workers must be based on the full minimum wage, here, $11.00.
Unpaid wage claims in the food service workers in the restaurant industry often stem from miscalculation and application of the tip credit which results in employees losing cash wages to which they are legally entitled. Also, when calculating overtime pay, employers often discount the rate by using the cash payment amount and not the true minimum wage. Workers have a right to overtime at the rate of one and a half times the full minimum wage. Tip credit and minimum wage amounts vary from state to state and even city to city.
Tips belong to employees, and in New York State this is very clear. Even a “service charge” automatically added to a food bill belongs to the wait staff unless it is clearly stated to the customer otherwise. Employers may not legally take a portion of gratuities for themselves, but try often. If you are asked to turn over your tips or share them with a non-tipped worker such as a dishwasher, owner or manager, you may want to consider filing a claim for unpaid wages.
Health care workers who provide in-home care have recently come under the fold of the FLSA and are now often legally entitled to receive overtime pay. These hard workers are now filing longstanding claims for minimum wage and overtime violations. Recently, several unpaid wage claims have settled in favor of the employees. The employees received back pay for the long hours they worked without receiving wages.
Employers tend to lump office and administrative workers into one of the overtime exemptions that exist under the FLSA. Employers do not have to pay overtime to professionals, executives, and administrators who receive a certain minimum salary and perform specific duties. To be exempt, an employee must meet the salary threshold requirements AND pass the duties test.
A job title alone does not exempt an employee from the right to receive overtime pay. One must look at the actual responsibilities and functions of the job. Office and administrative workers who don’t engage in genuine administrative work as outlined in the FLSA may file unpaid wage claims for overtime. Employers who “misclassify” workers as exempt, may be held responsible for paying back overtime wages and other penalties.
The minimum wage for fast food workers of large companies in New York is higher than the minimum wage for employees in other industries. In New York City it is $11.00 per hour and in the rest of the state it is between $9.70 and $10.50 depending on the location of the employer. These rates are scheduled to increase each year (the previously stated rates are in effect from December 31, 2016 – December 31, 2017) which may cause some confusion among employers and employees. You should know the amount to which you are entitled. Employees can hold large fast food corporations accountable when they fail to pay the correct wages and overtime to their workers.
Construction workers put in long hours and often never receive the overtime pay they earn. Filing an unpaid overtime claim may be the best chance of recovering that money plus damages.
Another area of “misclassification” involves independent contractors. Independent contractors are exempt from many of the provisions of the FLSA. They are not employees of someone else and are therefore not entitled to things like overtime pay and other protections. However, it is not uncommon for businesses to claim that workers are independent contractors when they are, in fact, employees. The US Department of Labor and the courts offer guidance on what differentiates independent contractors from employees by applying a seven-pronged economic reality test. Unpaid wage claims involving these issues require independent analysis. Entertainers, skilled laborers, plumbers, electricians, painters, consultants, and installers are some of the types of employees who have been misclassified and filed unpaid wage claims.
You deserve to receive pay for the hard work that you perform, and when you don’t get it, compassionate legal professionals are available at Leeds Brown to evaluate your claim for unpaid wages.
Representing clients in New York and across the nation, we take pride in helping workers obtain the wages to which they are legally entitled. If you are a misclassified worker seeking overtime pay, a fast food employee trying to secure the correct minimum wage or a waitress or waiter trying hold on to your tips, Leeds Brown may be able to help.
There are time limits to file so call today and make sure you protect your rights. Someone is available to take your call 24/7 at 1-800-585-4658.