Understanding Wage Theft in New York
Attorneys Help Employees Understand Wage Theft
Leeds Brown Law, P.C., unpaid wage attorneys representing employees in the New York metropolitan area, see first-hand the variety of ways that employers violate wage and hour laws. When violations occur, hard-working employees pay the price. Employees in low-wage industries are often most susceptible to victimization, but wage and hour violations can affect anyone at any job. No one is immune: construction workers, office workers, home health care workers, waiters, waitresses, independent contractors, interns, kitchen staff and retail workers can all experience wage theft.
Our lawyers that file unpaid wage claims have spent decades assisting workers to recover the money they earn. At Leeds Brown, we dedicate ourselves to making sure employees understand their workplace rights and receive guidance when employers violate them. Contact us at 1-800-585-4658 to learn more about filing a claim to recover unpaid wages.
What is Wage Theft?
When you don’t receive all of the wages to which you are entitled, it may be the result of a simple mistake. Asking your employer about it may be the easiest way to resolve something that is just an oversight or accidental miscalculation.
Wage theft occurs when your employer illegally underpays (or doesn’t pay) wages you have earned. When your employer withholds money that belongs to you, it is wage theft.
How Does Wage Theft Occur?
Although the following are not the only ways that wage theft occurs, it often happens when:
- Employers refuse to pay overtime
- Employers pay less than minimum wage
- Employers require that employees work “off the clock.”
- Employers take illegal deductions from pay
- Employers misclassify employees as independent contractors
- Employers misclassify employees as exempt from overtime
- Employers require tipped employees to share gratuities with non-tipped employees
Are You a Victim of Wage Theft?
It is not always easy to tell if your employer is withholding wages from you and, if so, whether it is illegal. Speaking with an attorney at Leeds Brown can help you understand your rights and evaluate your circumstances. Consider the following questions and their answers to begin the process of determining if you are receiving all of your wages:
- What is the minimum wage you are supposed to be earning? Is your employer paying you this amount?
- Are you working over 40 hours per week and not receiving overtime wages for the extra hours?
- Is your overtime pay being calculated properly as time and a half your regular rate of pay?
- Are you receiving pay for every single hour you have worked?
- Has your boss told you to work before you clock in or after you clock out? Did you get paid for this time?
- Are you sure you are an independent contractor and not an employee entitled to overtime?
- Did your employer deduct money from your paycheck that brought your hourly wage below the minimum wage?
- Did your employer refuse to give you your tips?
- Did your boss refuse to pay you for your break time even though you worked during its entirety?
- Did your boss threaten to fire you if you try to recover your unpaid wages or challenge the way he is calculating them?
What Protects You From Wage Theft?
There are state and federal laws that provide different rights and remedies to employees. One of the most important laws is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This federal law requires that employees pay the minimum hourly wage. It also sets out rules regarding overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
The federal and state minimum wage rates may differ, and the higher one prevails. In New York, for example, the minimum wage varies depending on the size of the business you work for, its location, and what type of establishment it is. However, it is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. As of December 31, 2017, the minimum wage in New York is anywhere from $9.70 per hour to $12.00 per hour.
Can I Avoid Being a Victim of Wage Theft?
There is no way to ensure your employer won’t try to steal your wages but you should stay on top of things. The more you understand about your rights, the better you can assess your wages to check for errors.
Keep track of the hours you work and understand the deductions your employer is taking from your paycheck. Check your pay each week to see if it matches your hours and that any overtime was calculated at the proper rate.
Remember, accidents happen. If your wages do not make sense to you, you can speak with your employer. Your employer may not legally retaliate against you for inquiring about your paycheck or filing a claim to recover your unpaid wages.
What Can an Employee Who is a Victim of Wage Theft do?
Although wage theft hurts hard working employees, there are ways to recover the money you have earned. A worker who experiences wage theft can file an unpaid wage claim with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division or the New York State Department of Labor.
You can also recover your wages by filing a civil claim in New York State Court. If your case is successful, you can receive back pay, attorney’s fees, and an additional financial award if the court determines your employer’s violations were willful.
The issues above reflect just some of the basics surrounding unpaid wages and unpaid overtime. Experienced wage and hour attorneys, like the ones at Leeds Brown, representing employees across New York, can help you to understand your rights and develop an action plan if you are a victim of wage theft.
Our attorneys have spent decades securing unpaid wages and damages for victims of wage theft, tip theft, and retaliation. We have the skill and tenacity to advocate aggressively for your workplace rights while simultaneously providing you with compassionate and personal service.
There are time limits to file unpaid wage claims. We have no way to know how much time you have until we hear the details of your case. Contact Leeds Brown today at 1-800-585-4658 to set up a free case evaluation. Someone is here to take your call 24/7 so don’t wait.