Each year, it is estimated that American workers lose between $40 billion and $60 billion to unpaid wages. That figure dwarfs the approximately $5.5 billion in total losses from burglary, robbery, and identity theft combined. Wage theft can take many forms, including failure to pay the minimum wage or overtime, tip theft, and failing to pay for all hours worked. For workers that are the victims of wage theft, there are federal and state laws designed to protect them.
Wage Theft Prevention Act
In 2011, New York’s Wage Theft Prevention Act was enacted, requiring employers to give written notice of wage rates to each new hire. The written notice must include:
- Rate or rates of pay, including overtime rate of pay when applicable
- How the employee is paid (by the hour, salary, etc.)
- Regular payday
- The official name of the employer and any other names used for the business
- Address and phone number of the employer’s main office or location
- Allowances taken as part of the minimum wage, such as tips and meal and lodging deductions
Under the law, the notice must be given both in English and in the employee’s primary language.
Minimum Wage Violations
According to the New York State Department of Labor, the minimum wage has increased to $15 per hour for all size businesses in New York City. In Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties, it is $13 per hour, while in the remainder of the state, it is $11.80 per hour. These rates differ for those in the fast food industry and those who receive tips. These rates will remain in effect until December 30, 2020.
When you are an employee who is able to work for overtime pay, you expect to receive those wages. But when that doesn’t happen, you may feel betrayed by your employer.
New York has strict regulations on overtime violations including:
- Those who are permitted to receive overtime pay must be compensated at the rate of 1½ times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek
- Compensation for overtime violations in the form of back pay, damages caused by the failure to pay overtime rates, and attorney’s fees if applicable
If you are a server, bartender, or hospitality worker in New York City, you probably rely on tips for the majority of your income. But when your employer doesn’t clearly explain the business tip process, you may be cheated out of your rightfully earned money.
In New York City, employers may follow tip sharing, tip pooling, and/or the tip credit system. When done correctly and conveyed to employees appropriately, this is not an issue for businesses or employees. But, when an employer does not follow state protocol correctly, tip theft may occur.
If you have not been paid for work you have done, you need legal guidance. Such cases of unpaid wages may include:
- Your employer did not pay you for all hours worked including job training
- Your paycheck bounced due to insufficient funds
- You did not receive all tips earned
- Your rate of pay was lowered without notice
In addition, in New York, your employer cannot take illegal deductions from your pay. These may include:
- Shortage of cash
- Business loss
- Deductions not listed in Section 193 of the Labor Law
- Charges for check replacement
- Overcharges for paid family leave
You work hard for your paycheck. Don’t let an employer take advantage of you, resulting in unfair payment. If you have a wage and hour claim against your employer, we can help.
Contact Brown Kwon & Lam, LLP if you believe you have a wage and hour violation. We are here to help.