When you work hard for your employer, you deserve to be paid fairly for the work you do. However, some employers don’t pay employees fairly for their efforts, which happens more often than you may think. In 2019, the United States Department of Labor recovered more than $322 million in back wages on behalf of more than 300,000 employees across the United States.
What are some common violations of wage and hour regulations?
1. Minimum wage violations
The law requires your employer to pay you a minimum hourly wage for every hour that you work. The federal government sets the minimum rate for the entire country, although many states, counties, and cities, including New York, set a higher wage. New York City employers are required to pay $15 an hour to employees, while employers in Long Island and Westchester are required to pay at least $13 an hour.
2. Overtime violations
Employees who are protected by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law are entitled to overtime pay for any hours that they work over 40 hours per week. Employers are required to pay employees 1.5 times their regular hourly rate of pay for any overtime hours worked.
3. Not paying employees for their full work hours
Unpaid work can result in significant lost wages for employees. Some employers pressure employees to do additional work “off the clock.” Other employers may not pay their employees appropriately for prep work performed before the start of a shift, side work required for their job, or work-related travel.
4. Not offering employees the breaks they are due
New York law requires employers to provide employees with breaks during which employees can eat a meal, but the length of that break depends on the industry and the timing of the employee’s shift. Employers may not force their employees to work through meal breaks, particularly if the employers fail to pay their employees for this extra work.
5. Misclassifying employees
The law treats independent contractors differently than employees, and generally affords greater rights and protections to employees. Some employers exploit this by misclassifying employees as independent contractors in order to avoid paying overtime or providing benefits to which the misclassified employees would otherwise be entitled.
If you have experienced one or more of these types of wage and hour violations, be sure to speak to an experienced employment attorney.