Wage theft is unfortunately a common occurrence in New York and can be experienced in many different types of occupation.
Discrepancies in what you should be paid and what you are actually paid may be just a simple administrative error or a deliberate attempt to pay you less than you are entitled to.
There are many different forms of wage theft, but the most common are paying less than the minimum state wage and not paying overtime.
Not paying the minimum wage is often disguised by charging for uniform, not paying for working through statutory meal breaks and other unlawful practices.
Wage theft is illegal in New York State and if you have proof that you have experienced wage theft, you may be able to file a wage theft claim with the state agency that deals with labor laws or file a lawsuit if the amount of wage theft is particularly high.
Many employees who have experienced wage theft at their place of employment find it useful to contact an employment law attorney before taking legal action.
What You Need to Know Before You File a Wage Theft Claim
Both federal and state laws determine the minimum wage that must be paid to all except a small number of employees. In New York, the state minimum wage of $11.80 an hour is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.20 an hour.
In this case, it is the state minimum that must be paid by all employers in New York State.
The other common form of wage theft is failure to pay overtime pay. Overtime is any work that is done over and above 40 hours in any working week of seven days. The overtime rate of pay in New York is one and a half the normal hourly wage.
There are other employment laws concerning wage theft. These include paying for accrued sick and vacation time if it is part of an employment contract, not deducting tips from wages and paying for any time an employee works through a statutory meal break.
How to Report Wage Theft
If you believe that you have not been paid what you should have been paid, you can file a wage claim form online with the New York State Department of Labor (DOL).
The DOL will investigate your complaint and if it is upheld, will make your employer pay you any unpaid wages that you are owed.
Alternatively, unless the amount is quite small, you can file a lawsuit through the civil court. If successful, you should be paid back the amount owed plus attorney’s fees and court costs.
Note that there is a statute of limitations which limits the time in which you should submit a wage claim, but as this is six years from the date of the wage theft occurring, you should aim to file your claim as soon as you can.
Fill Out a Free Evaluation Form
If you think you have been subject to wage theft by your employer, you should fill out the free evaluation form available below.