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Unpaid Wages and Overtime Attorney

A remarkable number of employers are not compliant with federal and state wage and hour laws.  In fact, according to a recent study, unlawful unpaid wages accounted for nearly $1 billion in losses to U.S. employees in 2012.

Our firm’s NY, NJ and MA employment attorneys have a strong focus on unpaid wages and overtime. Not surprisingly, these hard-working lawyers have recovered millions in unpaid wages and overtime for our employee clients.  Our employment attorneys will listen to your particular needs when it comes to collecting unpaid minimum wages, commissions, bonus payments, and other earned but unpaid wages from employers.  Often, our attorneys are capable of collecting unpaid wages through a confidential demand letter negotiation for those clients interested in confidentiality.  For those who prefer a more aggressive approach, we routinely file lawsuits under the New York Labor Law and the Fair Labor Standards Act for not only all unpaid wages, but also for penalties up to 100% of the underpayment (or double damages), interest, and attorneys’ fees.

Unpaid Wages, Unlawful Deductions, and Pooled Tips

It is illegal for your employer to force you to work “off the clock” or falsely report your hours. You may have a claim for back payment of all wages rightfully earned if your employer:

  • Requires you to report early to work, clock out for certain activities, or stay past the end of your shift;
  • Demands your presence on work premises without being paid for your time;
  • Takes deductions from your pay for reasons other than taxes or benefits;
  • Fails to reimburse you for business expenses; or
  • Fails to pay you proper commissions.

Likewise, in the restaurant and hospitality industry, it is illegal for managers to pool your tips with non-serving employees.  Although many businesses in New York and New Jersey do this, it is considered theft and a violation of the law. You may have a claim for back payment of all tips rightfully earned if your employer:

  • Pools bartender tips with kitchen staff, hosts, or managers; or
  • Pools table server tips with kitchen staff, hosts, or managers

Unpaid Overtime: Consulting an Attorney

State and local law in New York City, New York State, and New Jersey require that employees receive paid time-and-a-half pay for any hour worked over 40 per week.  Even if you are a salaried worker, you may be entitled to overtime regardless of what your employer says about whether or not you are eligible for overtime pay.

Employees in the retail, restaurant, and sales industries in New York and New Jersey are overrepresented among our litigation plaintiffs in unpaid overtime wage lawsuits.  However, the unlawful nonpayment of overtime can take many forms, and no industry is immune from the influence of abusive employers.  And cutting corners on overtime pay can take many forms: misclassifying workers as “exempt” — or ineligible for overtime — when in fact they are eligible, assigning nonmanagement employees management titles, forcing employees to work through their lunch break or after the end of their shift, paying hourly employees “straight time” — their regular hourly wage — instead of time-and-a-half, to avoid making overtime payments.

Questions and Answers on Unpaid Wages & Overtime

If you have unpaid wages, one way you can try to recover them is by filing a claim with the New York Department of Labor. In order to file a claim, you need to head to their website and fill out a form to claim unpaid wages.  You can also file a claim under federal law with the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor.

Questions and Answers Relevant to New York

Note: Other states may provide similar proeections

New York law provides important protections to employees. The information below is a general overview of some of the rights created by New York law.

Yes. Most employers are required to provide hourly paid employees with at least 30 minutes of unpaid time off if an employee works more than 6 hours. If an employer requires an employee to be “on call,” or deal with work issues, during meal periods the employer must pay the employee for that time.

My employer makes it very difficult for me to determine whether I am being paid correctly. Is my employer required to provide me with a clear pay stub?

New York law imposes two requirements on employers that are intended to provide employees with clarity about their earnings and reduce wage theft:

  • Wage Notices: Employers are required to provide written notice to each new hire that states: (1) rates of pay, including overtime rate; (2) how the employee is paid (i.e. by the hour, commission, etc.); (3) the regular payday; (4) the name and address of the employer; and (5) any deductions that are taken from the employee’s wages.
  • Wage Statements: Employers are required to provide employees with wage statements that show: (1) the dates covered by the payment; (2) the basis of the payment (i.e. hourly, salary); (3) rates paid (regular and overtime); (4) hours worked; (5) allowances and credits; (6) gross wages; (7) any deductions from wages (i.e. for insurnace); and (8) net wages.

Notice must be provided in the employee’s primary language.

Employers that fail to comply with these requirements are liable to employees for penalties.