Understanding the Changing Minimum Wages in NY

Raising Awareness About New York’s Minimum Wage Rates

Unpaid wage attorneys, representing clients throughout New York, Leeds Brown Law, P.C. recognizes how important it is to understand some fundamental rights of employees. At the very least, employees are entitled to receive the legal minimum wage for all of the hours dedicated to performing work. It sounds like a simple formula, but we know that employers violate wage and hour laws.

One of the reasons employers fail to pay proper wages is that the substance of the regulations are not as simple as one would assume. Confusion can arise in part because there are multiple laws that apply to minimum wage. For example, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. When a state, such as New York, has a higher minimum wage, it is the higher wage rate that prevails. When the minimum wage differs in a particular city within a state, as is the case in New York City, workers are entitled to receive the highest applicable wage rate.

Some businesses try to save money by refusing to pay workers the money the law demands. Payroll is often the largest expense of a company and paying below the legal minimum, refusing to pay for overtime, withholding tips, and shaving hours are common ways employers try to cut costs. Others don’t bother trying to figure out the correct rate of pay or are not aware that it matters.
If you are an employee earning less than minimum wage you may have the right to file an unpaid wage claim to recover your earnings plus more from your employer. Employment lawyers at Leeds Brown have decades of experience helping workers in New York, collect the money that belongs to them and holding companies accountable for violating wage-hour laws.

Minimum Wage in New York State – Frequently Asked General Questions

Is the minimum wage in New York different in various regions of the state?

Yes. According to the New York Department of Labor (DOL), until the statewide minimum wage reaches $15 per hour, there are three different minimum wage rates in effect for the for the following regions:

  • New York City
  • Westchester and Long Island
  • The remainder of New York State
What determines the minimum wage; the employer’s location or where the employee does the work?

The DOL states that the applicable minimum wage depends on where an employee performs work, regardless of where the business has its main office or headquarters

Does the size of the employer affect the minimum wage rate?

In New York City, the minimum wage differs for employees of large and small businesses. Large means 11 or more employees. A small employer has 10 employees or less.

Is the minimum wage rate determined by the type of work performed?

Most employees in New York are entitled to earn minimum wage. But certain industries may have different minimum wage rates and allowances. Tippped workers, for example, receive a smaller cash minimum wage because the employer may apply a tip credit to their wages. Fast food employees have a higher minimum wage rate than other industries. New York “wage orders” set out specifics for industries with exceptions.

Who is not legally entitled to minimum wage?

In New York, there are limited professional, executive and administrative exemptions to minimum wage requirements. Also, employers are not required to pay outside sales people, part time babysitters, and taxicab drivers minimum wage. There are a few other very narrow exceptions.

How often does the minimum wage change?

The federal minimum wage has remained the same for quite some time. New York, however, has implemented new minimum wage rates that are scheduled to increase yearly for several years, until statewide, the minimum wage is $15 per hour.

Who is responsible for knowing the correct minimum wage?

According to the DOL, every New York employer must display a poster stating the applicable minimum wage schedule. https://www.labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/LS207.pdf

New York Minimum Wage Changes – The Details

What is the minimum wage in New York State? https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/CR146.pdf

Let’s look at the details:

As of December 31, 2016, the general minimum wage is as follows:

  • New York City – large employers – $11.00 per hour
  • New York City – small employers – $10.50 per hour
  • Westchester and Long Island – $10.00 per hour
  • All other locations in New York State – $9.70 per hour

The rates are scheduled to change in small increments until they reach $15.00 per hour. New York City large employers will be at $15.00 by December 31, 2018, small New York City businesses by December 31, 2019, and Long Island and Westchester employers by December 31, 2021. The rest of the state will eventually catch up.

The Minimum Wage and Employees of Fast Food Chains

Employees of large fast food chains who work in New York earn a different minimum wage than those employed in other industries. A large fast food employer is a business with 30 or more locations nationwide. The minimum wage for fast food workers depends on the site of the work. As of December 31, 2016, fast food workers earn;

  • in New York City – $12.00 per hour
  • in the rest of New York State – $10.75 per hour

In New York City, the rate is set to increase on an annual basis until it reaches $15.00 per hour on December 31, 2018. The remainder of fast food workers in the state will earn a minimum wage that gradually increases each year until it reaches $15.00 per hour on July 1, 2021.

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It is not so difficult to see now why many employers fail to provide the proper wages to their employees. There is much room for error. As the minimum wage increases, we see more and more businesses trying to skirt the laws to keep costs low. Some are taking advantage of workers who either don’t know better or are fearful of losing their jobs for speaking up about wage violations.

In addition to requiring employers to pay minimum wages and overtime, however, New York wage and hour legislation prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who try to assert their rights. Not only can you file a claim to recover your unpaid wages, but you may also have a claim for retaliation as well. If your employer punishes you (fires, threatens, harasses, or discriminates) because you have tried to secure unpaid wages, contact Leeds Brown. Our attorney can help you determine the best cause of action to obtain a positive outcome. You have the right to collect wages at the legal rate and should not have to settle for a dollar less than that to which you are entitled.

Call unpaid wage lawyers at Leeds Brown today and find out what you can do to recover your unpaid wages. We can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-585-4658.