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New York’s Top 5 Wage and Hour Violations and What You Should Do About Them

WagesWage and Hour Law

Imagine working hard for your employer only to learn you won’t be paid for your work. It sounds like a nightmare, but it happens more often than people realize. Luckily, there are laws in place that protect workers’ pay and ensure they receive the wage they deserve.

According to information from the US Department of Labor, more than $322 million in back wages owed to employees was collected from employers in 2019 with more than 300,000 people not receiving their wages.

There continue to be numerous ways in which employers violate wage and hour laws. What are some of the most common?

  1. Not Providing Breaks

Sometimes wage and hour violations are subtle. You’re getting paid for the hours you’ve worked, but you aren’t getting the break time guaranteed to you by law.

According to New York law, employees must be paid for their time away from work duties to eat and have sufficient breaks. The length of these breaks varies according to the industry in which you work and the number of hours and timing of your shift. Your employer cannot force you to work through breaks without paying you.

  1. Misclassifying Employees

Employees are different from independent contractors (IC). Employers have greater obligations to employees, including paying benefits and other types of compensation. Unfortunately, some employers misclassify employees as ICs and deny them benefits to which they are due to save money.

  1. Minimum Wage Violations

Employers must pay employees a certain minimum hourly wage for their work. There is a federal minimum wage that in some places is overridden by a higher minimum wage. For example, the minimum wage in New York City is $15 per hour. If an employer is paying less than the minimum hourly wage owed to employees, that employer is legally obligated to compensate the employee for money owed. This means updating the hourly rate to be in compliance going forward, as well as any back pay owed possibly in addition to liquidated damages (financial penalties designed to punish the employer for violating the law).

You can learn more about minimum wage laws in New York (they vary throughout the state) here.

  1. Overtime Violations

When an employee works more than the standard 40 hours per week and is not an exempt employee, he or she must receive overtime pay at a higher rate than their usual hourly rate. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, employers must pay employees 1.5 times their regular hourly rate for overtime. So for a simple example, if an employee’s hourly rate is $20 per hour and he or she works 45 hours in any one week, he or she would receive $30 for those additional five hours. His or her total gross weekly earnings would be $950.

New York’s Labor Law provides additional protections to employees and backs up the requirements of the federal law.

  1. Off-the-Clock Work Violations

If an employer asks you to work “off the clock,” they are violating the law. You deserve pay for any hours you work, including work you take home or otherwise complete away from your usual work site. It also includes preparation work, side work, or work-related travel. If you are a non-exempt employee providing work to your employer, you are entitled to payment.

If you believe your employer is committing any of the above-listed violations or you believe you deserve wages you have not received, we can help. For more information or to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C.

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