By law, New York employers are supposed to pay any employee, with some exceptions, overtime when they begin working more than 40 hours in any given week. However, according to a recent report, more employers are being sued by their employees because they were not paid for hours they worked overtime.
In addition to other wage and hour protections, people in New York's service industry additionally enjoy the protection of the state's spread of hours law. The law is designed to provide payment to those whose shifts are spread over a certain number of hours, whether the hours worked are performed in one straight shift or divided between two in a split-shift situation.
In New York, the city and state have different laws regarding paid sick leave. There is no legislative mandate in the state at large to provide any sort of leave, paid or unpaid, for workers who are ill. However, businesses operating in the five boroughs of the city have a legal obligation to give time off to any of their employees who need it for any major ailment or physical condition. This would include leave while the worker was assisting in health-related issues for their family members.
Under New York law, employers are not allowed to deduct money from wages unless a governmental agency or the employee authorizes the deduction. If the employee authorizes the deduction, the authorization must be given voluntarily and in writing while the employee is in full knowledge of all of the terms and conditions of the deduction.
Most employees in New York state are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week. This is true even if the hours were not authorized in advance or the employee waives his or her right to overtime pay. Residential employees must work 44 hours in a week before being eligible for overtime pay.
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.
In recent years, exotic dancers have been bringing lawsuits against strip clubs in New York and around the country saying that they were denied a minimum wage and other benefits generally given to employees. Increasingly, courts have agreed with the position that they are employees and not independent contractors. As clubs operate more as legitimate businesses, they have come under scrutiny from the IRS and the Labor Department.
The National Labor Relations Board ruled on July 29 that McDonald's could be named as a joint employer. This would potentially bring the company under closer scrutiny with regard to its labor practices. In March, employees of the company from three different states filed lawsuits alleging that the company used software to control labor costs. If costs were too high at any given point, employees were told to wait before clocking in.
A New York Supreme Court judge made a decision during the week beginning on June 30 in a case involving the Buffalo Bills. The team's cheerleading squad, the "Buffalo Jills," is suing the Bills for unfair pay practices. According to the lawsuit, the Jills were not paid for many hours they were required to work and were also subject to fines for uniform violations.
Everyone deserves to be paid fairly for their work. At the very least, they should be paid the minimum wage, though federal law allows for individuals who receive tips to make less than the hourly minimum wage for tipped work. The rationale is that if they are receiving tips, then those tips will raise their hourly wage to at least the minimum wage. Servers and restaurant workers who are generally tipped, however, may not always be assigned tipped work.