Often, employers will withhold pay or take deductions from an employees paycheck, attempting to justify their actions when they’re in fact breaking the law. Employees who work in New York should know the rights they’re entitled to under the Fair Labor Standards Act as well as the New York State Labor Law and New York City labor laws. Here are a few examples of illegal pay practices employers often engage in in order to deny an employee his or her proper pay:
An employer might try to persuade some of its employees to work “off the clock.” Their justification for such a demand might be an imminent deadline, a disruptive event at the workplace or sudden departure of another worker. Or, in some cases, an employer may demand an employee work “off the clock” to avoid its lawful obligation to properly compensate employees. This is considered an illegal pay practice, and can bring about an unpaid overtime or minimum wage claim.
It is illegal to withhold pay for training time. The #EndWageTheft campaign on Twitter refers to this as an example of “wage theft.” Under federal law, training time is generally counted as hours worked unless the employer tells workers that the training is strictly voluntary. And even then, it may be counted as hours worked if the voluntary training is held during working hours.
A manager may stop paying employees for the time it takes them to travel from the headquarters or a usual work site to a job site or remote location. The justification might be that employees are not performing their usual work (carpentry, electrical work, welding, etc.) in the truck or van.
Time spent working during commutes to and from an office job may also count as hours worked for purposes of the laws governing pay. Under federal regulations, speaking generally, an employee must be paid for unscheduled hours worked if that work is for the benefit of the employer. This rule applies even if the employee is outside the workplace, such as in his or her home, car, or on board a bus or train.
An employer might deduct the cost of repairing or replacing equipment, a cash register, or plates or glasses from a worker’s pay. This deduction might be justified as compensation of the employer for the worker’s mistakes, or a punishment intended to prevent further damage.
While this deduction might be allowed in some states under federal law, New York law is different. New York law states that no employer shall make any deduction from the wages of an employee, except those which are consented to in writing by the employee for the employee’s benefit(s), such as health insurance premiums, or other benefits, which are directed by law or rule/regulation of an agency.
Some deductions from wages or hours that employers might make may not be allowed by law. Consulting a Long Island/New York City employment attorney may provide clarity about how many additional hours an employee is entitled to be paid for, and about other legal remedies that may be available. Contact us today via email or by phone at (212) 661-4370 or (516) 873-9550.
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