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Wage and Hour

It is a simple fact that many employers routinely violate federal and state wage-and-hour laws. Wage-and-hour laws are those laws that regulate the hours employees may work, the minimum pay they must receive for that work, and that establish other standards for breaks, payroll reporting, and notice to employees of certain rights. These laws can be complex, and some employers violate these laws accidentally because they do not know or understand the law. Many other employers, under the pressure of a competitive business environment, intentionally cut corners and willfully violate these laws.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets many of America’s wage-and-hour laws. States are free to set their own standards as long as they do not fall below FLSA standards, and in New York, certain additional protections are provided to workers through the New York State Labor Law, the Minimum Wage Act, and other laws. Many of New York’s laws follow FLSA standards, such as requiring overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a given week, and in classifying certain employees as exempt from overtime laws.

Because employers regularly violate wage-and-hour laws, this remains an active area in the courts and in the state legislature. Every month numerous suits are filed in New York alleging that employers have failed to pay overtime, failed to provide meal and rest breaks as required, failed to follow proper payroll reporting practices, and violated other wage and hour laws. Often these are brought as individual claims, and even in individual cases the money that can be recovered due to an improper practice over several years can be substantial. Sometimes wage-and-hour suits are brought as class actions or collective actions, where a group of employees has been exposed to the same improper practices. These class action suits can create tremendous pressure on employers due to the dollar value of penalties and back pay for an entire class of workers.

In an effort to provide further protections for workers, the state legislature enacted the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act, which became effective in April 2011. The Act reflects a concern that employees have not always been aware of their rights, and requires that employers provide notice to employees of the following: the employee’s rate of pay, whether the employee is paid by the hour, day, salary, piece or otherwise, any allowances that are included in the employee’s wage, the employee’s regular payday, and the employer’s name and contact information. The Act also requires notification regarding whether an employee is considered exempt from overtime laws, and increased certain penalties for wage-and-hour violations.

Many employees continue to mistakenly believe that they are only protected by wage-and-hour laws if they are paid an hourly wage. This is not true. Employees who are paid a salary, are paid by the piece, or are paid in any other fashion are also protected by federal and state wage-and-hour laws. However, certain types of employees are not protected by all wage-and-hour laws, depending upon the nature of the employee’s duties.

At the Law Offices of Friedman & Houlding LLP, we are seasoned New York employment law attorneys. We have been litigating claims on behalf of employees against their employers for over 20 years. We understand that it is difficult to bring a claim against your employer, because you rely on your job to support you and your family, and particularly in difficult economic times you do not want to jeopardize your job by suing your employer. We will advise you and represent you with discretion, and handle your case in a way that is responsive to your needs and objectives. Call our office at (888) 369-1119 for a free confidential consultation.