Estimates state that New York City employers steal as much as $1 billion annually from workers in unpaid wages. An attorney for the National Employment Law Project says employees may lose $2,500 per year on average. Many are low-wage restaurant workers or undocumented, but employees in all industries and from all backgrounds may be victims of wage theft.
Many undocumented workers may not realize that they are protected by the same laws as any other workers. This means their employers must comply with minimum wage and other laws and that they can turn to the Department of Labor with their claims. However, the Department of Labor lacks the resources to investigate every claim or to force companies to comply. All workers are entitled to minimum wage, overtime pay and work days of no longer than eight hours regardless of their legal status. A civil suit can be the most effective way to force a business’s compliance and to ensure an individual’s rights.
For example, an individual might have a job working in a restaurant kitchen. That individual may be scheduled to work five split shifts per week of five hours each at minimum wage for a total of ten hours per day and fifty hours per week. However, that individual is supposed to work only eight hours daily or receive overtime.
An employment law attorney may be able to discuss the best strategy with the worker. For example, a suit may be prepared and filed on behalf of all the workers at the business. Workers might also name a sum in damages that they feel they are owed above and beyond the back pay and overtime.
Source: Latin Post , “Employers Steal $1 Billion in Wages Each Year from NYC Food Service Workers“, Nicole Akoukou Thompson, August 29, 2014