A woman formerly employed by New York City-based Vice Media filed a pay discrimination lawsuit against the company on Feb. 13. The suit alleges that Vice pays female employees less than male employees for doing similar work.
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers in New York and around the country to pay their workers an overtime rate of at least one and a half times their regular hourly rate when they work more than 40 hours during a standard workweek. The landmark 1938 law does not apply to those who perform professional, administrative or executive duties. However, the FLSA's language does not make clear what is and what is not a white-collar job, and it has been left to the courts to make these decisions when workers file claims over unpaid overtime.
The question of whether a particular worker is an employee or an independent contractor is an important one in courts in New York and around the country. In most states, the court will examine a number of factors to determine the status of the worker, with the primary factor being the level of control the business has over the details of the work performed.
The Fair Labor Standards Act provides certain protections to workers in New York, including the establishment of a minimum wage and overtime pay rules. Some salespeople who work on commission are paid draws on their future commissions in weeks in which they do not earn at least the minimum wage. These draws are then deducted from their commissions in subsequent weeks in which their pay exceeds the minimum wage. Recently, a federal court found that these types of pay arrangements do not violate the FLSA.
New Yorkers are protected under state and federal laws while they are working. Among these laws is a provision that they must be paid for all breaks that last 20 minutes or less. In a recent case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, an employer was found to have violated the law by docking workers who took bathroom breaks lasting longer than 90 seconds.
New York residents may heard stories about gender discrimination against female employees in the tech sector. In a lawsuit filed on Aug. 28, three former Oracle employees claimed that the company paid women less than men for performing similar duties. The suit claims that the company either knew or should have known about the pay disparity after a January 2017 lawsuit against Oracle brought by the Department of Justice.
New York employees who work at startups or businesses that focus on information and technology may be interested to learn that three female ex-employees filed a lawsuit on Sept. 14 against Google alleging that it engaged in gender-based wage discrimination. The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for lost wages and a portion of Google's profits.
As a general rule, most New York employees cannot be asked to work "off the clock".Furthermore, workers generally cannot be asked to work without being paid or to work hours that do not count toward overtime pay. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, non-exempt workers who put in more than 40 hours a week must be paid at 150 percent of their normal wages for those hours.