5 Common Illegal Employment Practices in New York
Illegal employment practices in New York may arise unintentionally or from an ill-conceived plan to save money. Employees often tolerate these practices for years before discovering they were denied fair pay and equal treatment. Here are five common practices by employers that may be actionable under state and federal law.
- Unpaid Wages
The most common form of unpaid wages is failure to pay overtime. Employers may ask workers to clock out and put in extra hours or calculate overtime pay incorrectly. Employees may also notice discrepancies in their paycheck, e.g. they know they worked three hours of overtime one Monday but only find they are paid for one hour. In more egregious cases, employers may even skim off paychecks hoping employees will not notice or demand that certain duties are performed off-the-clock.
Every employer should track hours and overtime accurately and pay accordingly. Poor record keeping does not absolve them of this duty and workers often prevail in these wage claims.
- Not Providing Documents or Policies
Even if you are terminated, you have a right to keep any employee handbooks or documents you signed. These become important if you need access to discrimination, harassment, family leave or other policies. Many companies have the handbook online but it is a good idea to have a hard copy too.
Be careful what you sign. If you sign an agreement stating you received and reviewed the employee handbook, but never received a copy, that could waive your rights in the future. Even you discover this oversight later on, request your personnel file so you can receive all signed documents and policies relevant to your position.
Your employer cannot terminate or demote you for discussing working conditions with your co-workers. It also cannot take the same retaliatory approach if you file a complaint with human resources or a state agency.
This mistake arises from a desire for relief from a “troublesome” employee, but it is often considered retaliation. Even if the adverse effect seems minor, like being moved to another less convenient location, you still have a possible claim for retaliation.
- Downplaying Harassment
Slurs against sexual orientation, race, gender or religion may have once been considered part of a company’s culture but are now actionable. Companies that fail to investigate matters like sexual harassment or worse, punish the complainant for speaking up, may be held liable.
- Employee Misclassification
The differences between independent contractors and employees is subtle but significant. Employers may classify workers as independent contractors so they do not have to pay benefits while still dictating duties, work hours, and use of technology.
Another misclassification is salaried vs hourly wages. Maintaining salaried employees prevents the need to pay overtime or calculate hours. While that is appropriate with higher-paid professionals who work varied hours based on project demand, it is not necessarily the best course of action for skilled laborers. These workers normally work a set eight-hour day with extended hours when there is the demand. If an employee shows that they were salaried merely to avoid overtime, that can become a successful misclassification and wage theft claim.
Contact Our Office Today
Illegal employment practices affect your income and job security. If you detect one in your workplace, it should be addressed immediately. To get started, contact the Working Solutions Law Firm to schedule a free case evaluation.