Leeds Brown Law, P.C. is a full-service employment law firm that concentrates its practice on recovering unpaid wages for workers in New York City, Long Island and the surrounding counties of New York State. Employers violate federal and state wage and hour laws in a variety of ways. Sometimes employers purposefully withhold wages as a way to cut costs. Other times violations result from a failure to understand the complex rules and regulations that govern wages and hours. Either way, it is the employees who suffer.
New York state labor laws and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) endow workers with the right to earn minimum wage, overtime pay, tips and other specific types of compensation. Employees are entitled to get paid for every hour they work. Federal laws provide the lowest threshold for the rights of workers. Where New York dictates higher wages or additional protections and rights for employees, state law prevails.
When an employer fails to abide by wage and hour laws, causing a loss of wages to an employee, the result is an unpaid wage claim, sometimes called a wage theft claim. Employees are entitled to file actions to recover the money they have rightfully earned. The most common unpaid wage claims result from unlawful actions of employers such as:
A survey conducted in 2008 with help from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) concluded that in New York City’s low-wage market, wage violations occur with great frequency, making it even more important for you to understand your rights. The survey found:
If you can point to one or more occasions when your employer has unlawfully withheld your wages in one of these ways, you may wish to speak with attorneys at Leeds Brown. Our lawyers dedicate themselves to recovering unpaid hourly wages, overtime pay, and minimum wages for workers in New York City and the surrounding areas.
You may have a claim for unpaid wages if your employer does not pay for every hour you spend performing work. This time includes the time you spend performing your job duties, but may encompass additional activities. For instance, the time it takes to put on and take off your work uniform or safety gear (donning and doffing), breaks, and work performed before or after your shift may be compensable. For instance, if you receive an unpaid 30-minute break each day but perform work through the break, your employer has to pay you for that 30 minutes and count the time toward your weekly hours. Also, if your business requires that you attend mandatory training, you must get paid for that time as well. Has your employer ever asked you to perform work “off the clock?” You have the right to demand wages for that work.
When your employer asks you to work through a break with no pay or perform work before or after shift, you may have a claim for unpaid wages. Remember, your employer has an obligation to pay you for the time you spend performing work and performing work can include more activities than you think.
There is a federal minimum wage which requires all employers to pay at least $7.25 per hour to employees. Many states have additional minimum wage laws which require employers to pay a greater minimum wage. The higher rate prevails. For example, the minimum hourly wage in New York is higher than the federal one and is scheduled to increase even more over the next few years. If you work in New York, you must receive the higher hourly wage.
For workers who regularly receive tips, they are entitled to earn the same minimum wage, but employers may use part of their tips as a credit toward that amount. The law, not the employer, determines the amount of the tip credit. The hourly wage workers receive from the employer, combined with the tip credit, must equal at least the legal minimum wage.
Some companies may ask workers to perform work “off the books” to avoid paying minimum wage or threaten to fire them if they seek to enforce their rights. If your employer is not paying you the legally acceptable minimum wage, you may be entitled to file an unpaid wage claim and recover back pay and other relief.
Both New York Labor Law and the FLSA require that employers pay overtime to eligible employees for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek. Overtime pay is one-and-a-half times the regular rate of pay also called time-and-a-half. If your regular rate of pay is $10 per hour, your overtime rate of pay for the hours over 40 is $15 per hour.
Because overtime pay is at a premium, employers sometimes go to great lengths to avoid paying it. Some of the ways they violate overtime rules includes:
Employers are legally required to pay overtime to eligible workers, and when they don’t, you may have an unpaid wage claim. You may be able to recover all of the unpaid overtime you earned plus additional monetary damages.
Stealing tips is another violation of wage and hour laws that often leads to an unpaid wage claim against an employer. Tipped employees are those who regularly earn gratuities for performing their work such as wait staff, servers and bartenders. Tips belong to employees.
Employers and other non-tipped employees may not share in tips and gratuities. To ask a tipped-worker to share with non-tipped workers is unlawful. A valid tip pool or tip sharing arrangement may exist when tipped employees are asked to combine their tips to split amongst other tipped employees. No worker who does not regularly receive tips, including the business owner or manager, may participate in this pool.
New York has an exception that allows a restaurant to take a prorated amount from a tip if the tip is left on a credit card. The amount is based on the service fee charged by the credit card company. For instance, if a credit card company charges a 2% transaction fee, the employer may take 2% of the tip and use it toward the cost.
Employment law attorneys at Leeds Brown have the skill and determination to recover unpaid overtime, stolen tips, and minimum wages for employees like you; hard workers in New York City, and the metro area who know that every penny counts. Our reputation and track record of success demonstrate our commitment to ensuring employees secure the lawful wages to which they are entitled and to holding accountable employers who skirt their obligations.
We can help you file a claim for unpaid wages, overtime, minimum wage or tips and begin the process of getting you your hard earned money.
Contact Leeds Brown today for a free consultation with one of New York’s best unpaid wage and overtime firms. Someone is available to take your call 24/7. Time may be of the essence so call now at 1-800-585-4658.
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