One restaurant owner is paying a steep price for failing to provide wages to her employees in accordance with New York labor laws. As reported by LongIsland.com, Elisa Parto, owner of Port Chester restaurant Elisa’s Food & Plus, Inc. (Elisa’s), was sentenced to up to six months in jail for “failing to pay employees the minimum wage and overtime.”
The law requires that most employees receive minimum wage. What does this mean? Minimum wage is the lowest hourly rate an employer can legally pay employees. There is a federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Many states have higher minimum wage rates than the federal one, and the higher rate prevails. In New York, our minimum wage is considerably greater than the federal one, but the particular amount varies depending on the location of the business and its size. To find out more about the minimum wage in New York go to https://www.labor.ny.gov/workerprotection/laborstandards/workprot/minwage.shtm
The law also requires that eligible employees receive overtime pay. Overtime is a premium pay given to employees for hours they work more than 40 in a given workweek. Overtime pay gets calculated by multiplying one and a half times the regular rate of pay. For example, an employee who earns a regular hourly wage of $10.00, would make $15.00 per hour for hours over 40.
There are some limited exemptions to these rules that apply to certain professions, high earners, executives, administrators and other specific job types. In general, however, the average employee working in a restaurant, must receive overtime pay and minimum wage. Unfortunately, to the detriment of thousands of New York workers, owners of restaurants and fast food establishments are some of the biggest violators of wage and hour rules. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has collected millions of dollars in unpaid wages for workers in New York, and has aggressively and successfully “pursued criminal prosecution of particularly egregious violators.”
Elisa’s opened in 2010. Between 2010 and 2014, Parto hired staff, including cleaners, cashiers, and cooks. The law required that Parto pays the workers at least minimum wage plus overtime pay for hours worked above 40 per week. One employee alleged that between 2012 and 2014, for him, 70-hour workweeks were common and that there was no overtime pay. Parto also did not comply with New York’s labor law requiring that employees receive wages within seven days of the end of the week in which they are earned. In 2015, Parto pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of not paying all of the minimum wage and overtime her employees made.
As part of her plea arrangement, Parto was ordered to pay $47,000 in restitution to six of her former workers. She paid $21,000 and refused to pay the remaining wages. As a result, the court sentenced her to “six months in jail and ordered [her] to pay the remaining $26,000 in stolen wages, in addition to a $1,000 fine.”
By all accounts, wage theft in New York is an ongoing problem. Employees in any industry can fall victim to unscrupulous employers who violate minimum wage and overtime laws. In recent years, however, there have been frequent reports of wage theft in the following areas of business:
Thankfully, if you are not receiving pay to which you are legally entitled, you can file an unpaid wage claim. There are ways to get the money you have earned. Our attorney general has made tackling wage theft a priority in New York and is setting the tone that it is unacceptable to withhold or otherwise steal the wages of hard working employees.
If your employer is not paying you promptly, refusing to pay minimum wage or overtime or stealing your tips, contact Leeds Brown Law, P.C. Our unpaid wage and overtime attorneys can provide you with a free consultation and answer your questions about filing a claim to recover your hard-earned money. Call today at 1-800-585-4658.
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