In the area of Wage & Hour/ Overtime Employment we represent employees who did not properly receive minimum wages, overtime wages and/or their proper share of tips. Gottlieb & Associates has been counsel in several hundred cases against employers for not properly paying employee wages. There are two laws designed to protect employees in this area. One law is Federal and is named the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The other laws used to protect employees’ rights are state labor laws. In New York, these laws are known as the New York Labor Law.These laws impose certain obligations upon employers such as minimum and overtime wages. The minimum wage constantly changes and the applicable legal amount at any time is the higher of the minimum wage requirement of Federal or state laws. The law also requires employers to pay overtime wages of time and one-half (150%) of the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week.Although the overtime wage laws apply to probably 85% of all employees, there are certain specific exemptions in the law. For example, professionals, managers (with responsibility and authority), teachers, etc. are not entitled to overtime wages. Gottlieb & Associates has successfully represented employees who were improperly misclassified as exempt by their employers and denied overtime wages. Just because an employee has a title and a salary does not mean that they are exempt from overtime wages. We have represented numerous “Assistant Managers” in various industries that were salaried and working over 40 hours in a week. Although these employees had a title with “Manager” in it, they did not have the requisite authority and responsibility that the law requires in order to be exempt from overtime wages even though their employer treated them as exempt.
Another area in which employers violate the Federal and state labor laws is in the misclassification of employees as “independent contractors.” Even if there is a written contract between a company and an individual that states that an individual is a “contractor” or “consultant,” the law looks at the economic realities of the situation to determine the real nature of the relationship. If the relationship is really that of employer-employee, the individual would also be entitled to overtime wages.
Minimum wages also apply to other situations. For example, someone may earn a substantial income as a broker or a salesman but, in a given week, they may earn very little. That person is still entitled to minimum wages during every week that he/she is employed even if he/she earned a large amount in other weeks. A draw against commissions is only a loan and not a salary. In other instances, employees are forced to work without pay prior to and/or after their normal shift or before and/or after they have punched their time clock. These employees are entitled to be compensated for their “off-the-clock” time and, if they have already worked 40 hours, it is at an overtime rate of pay.
Some employees also are entitled to get paid for “on-call time” or during their meal breaks if the restrictions placed on them for “on-call” or during their meal breaks by employers are unduly restrictive. Additionally, there are many employees that are also entitled to be paid for time spent working at home or away from the office. Examples include time at home or away from the office using computer time, calling clients, preparing reports, etc.
In other situations, employees who normally receive tips may also be entitled to damages from their employers if they do not receive all of the tips that they may be entitled to. Under New York State law, if a customer reasonably believes that an additional amount added to a bill is a gratuity, the entire gratuity must be paid to the wait staff at a banquet facility, hotel, catering hall or restaurant as well as delivery workers or anyone else that customarily receives tips. Likewise, tips left on a voucher to a car service or a limo company or on a credit card at a restaurant may not be kept by the employer. Tipped employees may be paid lower than minimum wage if the employer adheres to certain stringent requirements. If the employer fails to maintain all of the requirements, the employer is not allowed to reduce wages by the “tip credit” and the employee is also entitled to minimum wages as well as overtime wages.
Gottlieb & Associates has substantial expertise in this area of law and we welcome any questions that you may have concerning minimum and overtime wages or tips. Like the other areas in which Gottlieb & Associates practice, we accept cases from our clients on a contingent fee basis only. This means that our clients pay us a fee for our professional legal services only if we are successful in recovering damages on behalf of our clients. Also, we do not charge a fee for an initial consultation so feel free to contact us with any question you may have concerning this area of law. You should also be aware that the law protects employees who bring claims under these laws from retaliation by their employers. The law protects an employee from being fired for bringing such a claim. There is also a statute of limitations applicable to these claims. A statute of limitations means that there is a specified time period in which a lawsuit must be brought. If you think that you may be entitled to recover under these laws, do not delay in contacting us because a delay could mean that the time may have expired to bring your lawsuit. Under the FLSA, the statute of limitations is 2 years unless the employer acted willfully and, in that event, the statute of limitations is extended to 3 years. Under the New York Labor Law, the statute of limitations is 6 years. The law also provides that if the employee prevails, the employer may also be liable for interest, liquidated damages and the employee’s attorney fees if the actions were willful.