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New York car wash to pay $154,951 for underpaying workers

A New York car wash has agreed to pay more than $150,000 in restitution for not properly paying its employees, according to a March 23 statement from the state's attorney general. The company is being sanctioned for paying its workers less than the state minimum wage and violating spread of hours regulations. The spread of hours rule requires employers to pay their workers an extra hour of compensation at a rate that meets or exceeds the applicable minimum wage when their shifts last longer than 10 hours.

According to the attorney general, workers at the car wash was were paid as little as $6 per hour despite working for as many as 75 hours each week. Investigators came to their conclusions after looking at the hours worked and wages received by 16 current or former employees between January 2014 and February 2017. The minimum wage in New York was $8.00 per hour in January 2014, but it had been increased to $9.70 per hour by February 2017. The car wash's owner and manager were criticized in the report.

The attorney general's agreement also requires the Elmont car wash to keep detailed written records of employee complaints and provide its workers with information about their rights under federal and state labor laws. These rights include overtime pay of at least one-and-a-half times the regular hourly rate when workweeks exceed 40 hours.

Fears of retaliation sometimes prevent workers with wage issues from making complaints when they have been paid incorrectly or denied overtime pay. Attorneys with labor law experience will likely be familiar with these concerns, and they may seek to alleviate them by explaining to their clients the severe consequences that employers could face for firing or otherwise disciplining workers who have asserted their rights.Source: New York State Department of Labor, History of the General Hourly Minimum Wage in New York State

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