Retaliation for Reporting Wage and Hour Violations
Typically, when people realize that their employer has failed to compensate them fully for time worked, they will call the error to the employer’s attention. In some instances, the mistakes are accidental, and the employer will promptly take the measures necessary to pay their employees the wages that they are owed. In other cases, though, employers will develop animosity toward employees who report wage and hour violations and will retaliate against them. Treating employees adversely because they raise payment issues is unlawful, and employees who suffer financial harm because of their employer’s actions may be able to recover compensation. If you experienced retaliation for reporting wage and hour violations, the New York wage and hour lawyers at Gerstman Schwartz can assess your options for seeking justice and help you pursue any damages that you may be owed.Federal and State Laws Prohibiting Retaliation for Reporting Wage and Hour Violations
Federal and state laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who report wage and hour violations. Specifically, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that it is unlawful for any employer to fire or discriminate against an employee in any manner because the employee has filed a complaint or caused or instituted any proceedings related to FLSA violations, such as a failure to pay minimum wages or overtime. It is also illegal for an employer to take an adverse employment action against an employee who has or will testify in such proceedings or who serves on an industry committee.
Similarly, the New York Labor Law (NYLL) bars employers from penalizing, threatening, terminating, or discriminating or retaliating against an employee in any manner because he or she complained about a violation of the NYLL or because the employer received an adverse ruling because of the employee. Employers are also barred from taking such action against employees whom they believe have made such complaints. The NYLL also protects employees who have instituted proceedings, testify, or provide information related to NYLL violations.Pursuing Retaliation Claims Against an Employer
In many instances, employees who suffer from retaliation for reporting wage and hour violations can pursue civil claims against their employer under both the FLSA and New York law. The burden of proof differs slightly under each statute. A plaintiff pursuing retaliation claims under the FLSA must produce evidence of participation in a protected activity of which the defendant was aware and a negative employment action. The plaintiff then must show a causal connection between the protected act and the employer’s adverse action. A plaintiff’s burden of proof at the initial stage is not significant, and minimal evidence is needed to demonstrate retaliation. If the plaintiff meets their burden, the defendant must set forth a non-retaliatory, legitimate reason for its actions, and if it does, the plaintiff must then show that there is adequate evidence indicating that the defendant’s reasons were a mere pretext for the retaliation.
Under the NYLL, a plaintiff must sufficiently plead that he or she complained about the employer’s violation of the NYLL while working for the employer, and was subsequently fired, subjected to discrimination, penalized, or otherwise treated adversely. As with the FLSA, a plaintiff pursuing retaliation claims under the NYLL must show a nexus between his or her complaint and the employer’s retaliatory act.Speak to a Trusted New York Attorney
Employees are protected from retaliation for reporting wage and hour violations, and employers that take adverse actions against employees in violation of the law can be held accountable. If you were a victim of retaliation by your employer, it is prudent to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. At Gerstman Schwartz, our wage and hour attorneys are dedicated to helping employees protect their rights, and if you hire us, we will advocate assertively on your behalf. We regularly represent employees in wage and hour matters in New York City and in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. You can reach us by calling our New York City office at (212) 227-7070 or our Garden City office at (516) 880-8170, or using our form online to set up a meeting.