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Minimum Wage Violations

New York Attorneys Assisting Employees Owed Compensation

Employers often want to pay their employees as little as possible. While parties are free to negotiate the terms of compensation, employers cannot pay employees amounts that go below a certain threshold and are obligated to comply with state and federal minimum wage laws. Employers that fail to comply with statutory provisions regarding compensation may need to pay their employees damages, and people who were denied adequate pay from their employers should seek legal counsel regarding their potential claims. At Gerstman Schwartz, our New York wage and hour lawyers help employees harmed by minimum wage violations in the pursuit of justice. If we represent you, we will fight tirelessly to help you seek the best legal result possible in your case.

Minimum Wage Laws

There are local, state, and federal laws that establish minimum wages for certain workers. Specifically, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes the minimum federal wage, which currently is $7.25 per hour. The FLSA’s provisions are less generous than the Minimum Wage Act of the New York Labor Law (NYLL), which establishes the state minimum wage at $12.50 per hour as of December 21, 2020. The NYLL also provides that the state minimum wage is scheduled to increase each year until it reaches $15.00 per hour. In some areas of the state, the minimum wage is already higher. For example, as of 2020, the minimum wage for many workers in New York City is $15.00 per hour.

Employees are entitled to the highest minimum wage for their position under the applicable laws. Some employees are exempt from minimum wage requirements under the FLSA and NYLL, however. Additionally, some employees, like food service workers, are subject to different minimum wage requirements. Notably, though, employees cannot contractually waive their right to receive the minimum wage, and employers cannot assert such waivers as a defense to underpayment.

Claims of Minimum Wage Violations

New York employers that do not pay employees the minimum wage that they are owed under the applicable law can be held civilly liable. Under the FLSA, employees who have been denied the minimum wage can pursue claims against their employers for back pay. They may also be able to recover an amount equal to the back pay that they are owed as liquidated damages. If the employer adequately alleges that the failure to pay the employee the minimum wage was done in good faith and that it reasonably believed that it was not violating the FLSA, the court may decline to award liquidated damages, however. Employees can also seek attorneys’ fees and court costs. FLSA minimum wage violation claims must be filed within two years of the date of the violation, unless the employee can show that the violation was willful, in which case the deadline is extended to three years.

Pursuant to the NYLL, employees who were paid less than the wage to which they were entitled under the law can recover the underpayments, along with the cost of any reasonable attorneys’ fees and prejudgment interest. Furthermore, unless an employer demonstrates that it was operating under a good-faith belief that its wage practices were in compliance with the law, it will also need to pay liquidated damages to the employee in an amount equal to the total underpayments that are due. The NYLL affords employees greater leeway than the FLSA with regard to pursuing claims, in that it provides that any claim for minimum wage violations must be brought within six years of the alleged violation.

Consult an Experienced New York Attorney

Employees have the right to receive fair compensation, and if they are denied the minimum wage by their employers, they may be able to recover damages via civil lawsuits. If your employer failed to pay you appropriately, you should consult a lawyer to discuss your options. The experienced wage and hour attorneys at Gerstman Schwartz can gather the evidence needed to present persuasive arguments on your behalf to help you pursue any compensation that you may be owed. We frequently assist people in the pursuit of wage and hour claims in New York City and in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. We can be contacted through our online form or by calling our New York City office at (212) 227-7070 or our Garden City office at (516) 880-8170 to set up a meeting.

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