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.
A class action lawsuit has been filed by an unpaid intern with CBS "Late Show With David Letterman" on behalf of unpaid interns employed by the company over six years. The plaintiff alleges that the companies minimized labor costs by giving work to unpaid interns that would have otherwise gone to paid employees. The lawsuit claims that CBS and Letterman's production company violated overtime and minimum wage laws. It seeks back pay, overtime pay, interest and attorney fees.
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.
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.
Even though the New York Jets are located right across the river in New Jersey, there are a number of New York fans of the football team. The Jets have been in the news recently because the franchise is accused of paying its cheerleaders far below the minimum wage. As in New York, every New Jersey employer must pay its staff the minimum wage. Even for positions at minimum wage, the pay rate is so low that without further income an employee would be below the poverty line, so it is understanding that employees who aren't even paid minimum wage may be interested in filing wage and hour lawsuits against their employers.
McDonald's workers in New York have filed a lawsuit against their franchise owners and against the corporation behind the franchises in an attempt to get the company to pay for the cost of cleaning their uniforms. It would be unhygenic, if not impossible, not to clean a uniform that is covered in grease, fat, salt and the smell of fast food, but the cost of doing so should not be borne by its underpaid employees, argue the workers. Their lawsuits are part of many other lawsuits filed against the fast-food giant regarding wage and hour laws.