At some point, New York employees might learn that they are being paid less than another employee who has less seniority than they do. There are a number of reasons this might be the case and several approaches that employers might take if an employee makes a complaint about the issue. It is technically not illegal for an employer to do pay one employee less than another although it could cause morale problems and might leave the employer open to allegations of discrimination if the employee is a member of a protected class.
In 2012, service advisers working at a California Mercedes-Benz dealership sued their employer for being wrongly classified as being exempt from overtime pay. The employees' case was dismissed in 2013 by the district court. Following an appeal by the employees, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court's ruling.
New York workers who are not exempt must be compensated for overtime, but sometimes that right must be fought for in court. For example, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has ruled that a hospital chef has the right to go to trial over her claims of overtime and retaliation.
A recent appeals court decision could affect employees in New York who are pursuing compensation for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that a plaintiff in an FLSA claim could recover damages for emotional injuries caused by FLSA retaliation. The decision could make FLSA retaliation claims more expensive for employers to settle.
New York workers who make minimum wage may be interested to learn that President-elect Donald Trump has chosen to nominate Andy Puzder for labor secretary. Puzner, the CEO of Hardee's and Carl's Jr., has a history of violating minimum wage laws.
Employees are entitled to compensation for all of the time that they are allowed to work, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. New York workers should be familiar with what the Department of Labor's regulations states regarding compensation for employees for the times that they are not working, such as breaks and meals, if their work activities are limited during those periods.
People in New York who suspect that they are victims of pay discrimination might find the issues in a recent lawsuit brought forward by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to be familiar. Representing a woman who worked as a sales representative for a concrete liner company, the commission claimed that the employer violated the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Under both state and federal law, workers in New York are protected when they assert their rights to be paid for what they are owed. If they file a complaint with the state or federal government about not getting paid for hours that they have worked, employers are forbidden from taking retaliatory action against them.
Some New York workers find that overtime rules can be confusing, and national lawmakers may continue the confusion as they work on legislation aimed at delaying the implementation of important changes. A modernization effort by the Department of Labor is aimed at increasing the salary levels of previously exempt employees. However, a Sept. 28 vote in the House of Representatives could delay this change for several months.
Independent contractors in New York might start to enjoy increased protection based on a federal court ruling involving a dancer in a strip club. In that case, the dancer sued to be considered an employee rather than an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The strip club then countersued, claiming a breach of contract, and said that the dancer had to pay it dance fees she had collected from customers.