General Wage & Hour

New York City Attorneys Standing Up for Hourly Wage Workers

Unfortunately, an employer can deprive employees of the compensation to which they are legally entitled in countless ways, whether intentionally or unintentionally. U.S., N.Y. and NYC wage and hour laws provide for minimum compensation, overtime, breaks and meal periods and define what types of activities must be compensated and what types can occur “off the clock.” All too often, workers may labor for months or years without even realizing they are being deprived of wages and other rights to which they are entitled under the law. Since 1997, the attorneys of Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP have made leveling the playing field between employers and employees our goal. We can determine if your wage and hour rights are being violated and then help you take the actions necessary to obtain redress.

Common wage and hour abuses

The Fair Labor Standards Act dictates that most employees must receive a minimum hourly wage of $7.25 and requires overtime premium pay of time and a half for any hours worked in excess of 40 per week. Moreover, many states require a higher minimum wage for workers within their jurisdictions. New York, for example, has a minimum wage of $8.00 per hour. What many people do not realize is that wage and hour laws provide many more rights to workers and that often these less obvious violations cost hard-working employees billions of dollars each year:

  • Straight pay for overtime — The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that all non-exempt employees receive 150 percent of their base pay for every hour worked in excess of 40 per week. Nevertheless, some employers force or allow their workers to work overtime while only paying workers their regular rate. Others may avoid paying for excess hours at all by paying a day or shift rate and then failing to pay employees who work after their expected shifts have ended. Sustained or widespread implementation of this practice can amount to tens of thousands of dollars in wrongfully withheld wages.

  • Rest periods — Employers must compensate employees who are asked to work through their meal periods and cannot dock pay for permitted rest breaks twenty minutes long or shorter. Nevertheless, some employers wrongfully assume they do not have to pay for rest break time should they choose to permit such breaks. Any rest break time of twenty minutes or under must be compensated.

  • “Off the clock” work — In many occupations, employees must perform activities at the beginning and end of their work periods that, while not part of their primary work activity, are still integral and indispensable tasks. Some examples would be donning and removing safety equipment or traversing to a distant work site during the workday. Some employers may improperly require their workers to perform these necessary activities “off the clock,” thus depriving them of compensation for the time required.

  • On call hours — Employees who are “on call”—required to remain within a certain distance of a particular work location so they can quickly respond to the employer’s needs—are entitled to compensation that is at least in accord with New York's minimum wage law. Some employers, however, may illegally require employees to remain “on call” without providing them with proper compensation including time-and-one-half for hours over 40 including the on-call time.

Options for employees with wage and hour grievances

Unfortunately, even once they become aware of wage and hour violations, many employees simply consider the damage they are suffering too small to pursue. What they do not consider is that a few dollars a day can, over time, turn into thousands for each individual worker—and millions across an entire company or work site—in wrongfully withheld wages. What's more, employers who have wrongfully withheld wages from their employees cannot be exonerated simply by paying what they should have paid in the first place. The employer can be forced to pay you additional amounts, including significant penalties—up to three times what should have been paid in the first instance. In addition, your employer will be legally obligated to pay your attorney’s fees, interest from the date of the violation and court costs. This allows some employees to recover not only their lost wages but also substantial sums for their trouble.

When individual losses are too small to justify legal action, workers who have been systemically withheld wages due to an illegal employer policy can combine their claims to obtain redress through a class action. The attorneys of Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP have spearheaded numerous prominent wage and hour class actions on behalf of hourly workers in New York.

Learn more about how New York state wage and hour lawyers can help workers get fair compensation

If you or your coworkers feel that your current or former employer wrongfully deprived you of wages, our New York City wage and hour attorneys at Joseph and Kirschenbaum LLP may be able to assist. We know NYC, N.Y. and U.S. wage and hour laws and can analyze your current or even former employer's conduct to determine if a violation occurred and what options you may have for recourse. Contact us today to schedule a free initial intake analysis. We are available by phone at (212) 688-5640 or online. Se habla espanol.