Ensuring Employers Pay Fair Wages On Time
What are unpaid wages, and what rights do you have as an employee? New York state law says that any time an employer promises you a wage, salary, or other payment for a good or service, you have a right to claim those wages. If your employer fails to pay you for overtime that you worked, it is also considered unpaid wages.
New York law protects you from having your pay withheld for unjustified reasons. If you feel you have been the victim of having your pay withheld, you may need help from an experienced unpaid wages lawyer.
While minimum wage and overtime are handled according to some very complex laws and rules, the underlying directive is a simple one: you have a right to be paid for the work you performed for an employer.
If you have a contract or you belong to a union, you also have the right to be paid the wages outlined in your contract or collective bargaining agreement. If you work on certain public works projects, you have the right to be paid the prevailing wage for your occupation.
It’s always important for employees to make sure they are paid accordingly, but unfortunately, unpaid wages can sometimes lead to disputes with their employers.
What is the Wage Theft Prevention Act?
The Wage Theft Prevention Act requires employers to pay you for your services and provide proof that they have done so.
Employers have an incentive to pay their workers what they are owed since it costs less than being fined under the Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA). This law requires employers to provide written notice of an employee’s wages, a pay stub, and the scheduled payment date. If they do not meet these requirements, they risk fines of up to $5,000 per employee.
The WTPA helps protect workers in New York from unscrupulous or neglectful practices by employers. It allows workers to get their unpaid wages back by going to court, prevents employers from making deductions that would cause a worker’s pay to drop below minimum wage, and gives employees written documentation of their wages and payment schedule.
Types of Wage Theft
There are several opportunities for employers to withhold wages from their employees. All workers should keep a record of the hours they work so they can report any shortage in payment to their employer as quickly as possible or contact an unpaid wages lawyer.
Withheld Final Check
If a worker is fired or quits without notice, companies may attempt to withhold their final check. They may claim that the employee owes money for a uniform or some other expense. Without documentation of that deduction, all wages must be paid.
If you leave a job without using the vacation owed to you, that time can constitute unpaid wages. Unless the employer and employee have a written agreement showing that unused vacation does not get paid out at termination, the company is required to pay those wages.
If your company has a schedule policy stating that any time worked over 40 hours a week is defined as overtime, they have to honor it. Always keep a record of your hours. If your employer requires you to work over 40 hours to accomplish your tasks, they must pay you that additional money owed.
Under New York law, all employers are required to give their employees a 30-minute lunch break when they are scheduled to work more than 6 hours. In addition, all workers have to be given at least 24 consecutive hours off for every calendar week. If your employer is regularly asking you to miss all or part of your lunch break or forces you to work seven days a week, you are eligible to collect unpaid wages.
Unpaid Commissions and Bonuses
Unless there is a written agreement that bonuses and commissions are paid differently, you can claim them as unpaid wages if your employer fails to give them to you. That is another reason workers should keep detailed records of all payments they are due from their employer.
Minimum Wage Violations
Unfortunately, many companies will do anything they can to save money. Sometimes this means taking advantage of the workers who carry their business. They will attempt to classify many employees as independent contractors or salaried employees to avoid paying certain benefits.
The WTPA prevents employers from being able to reclassify any employee in a way that would cause their total pay to be less than minimum wage. That includes servers and delivery drivers who may depend on tips for part of their income.
What You Need To Know
If you feel that you have been the victim of wage theft, or if you have lost your job and want to be sure you get everything you are owed, there are a few things you should make note of.
If you work for yourself, you are responsible for paying unemployment insurance contributions since there is no employer to collect them from. If you do not collect your unpaid wages, you are at risk of committing a crime by not paying your contributions. People have faced time in jail with a felony on their record for this issue.
If you do not have a green card or were paid cash, it may still be possible to recover your unpaid wages. Employers believe that if there is no documentation proving employment they will not have to pay, but the WTPA prevents this from happening and an unpaid wages attorney can help.
The Company Is Out of Business
There have been workers who have gone to work one morning only to find that their company has locked the doors and gone out of business. These situations often lead to months or years of ongoing pursuits to collect final paychecks. If this has happened to you, the WTPA can protect you.
Statute of Limitations
As with many legal proceedings, the clock is ticking on how long you have to collect your unpaid wages. Legal action must be brought against a company for unpaid minimum wage and overtime within two years. Most other cases have a statute of limitation of six years.
What Should You Do?
The first thing you should do if you feel that you have had your wages withheld is to bring it up with your employer. It could have been a mistake in payroll or a misread time sheet. If they do not acknowledge the problem and offer a remedy, you should consider legal action.
When you contact an unpaid wages lawyer to represent you, you still have protections with the WTPA. You have a legal right to collect money owed to you in court. And by law, you are protected from any retribution by the company. So do not worry that getting legal counsel will jeopardize your employment.
Contact An Unpaid Wages Attorney Today
Our team here at The Howley Law Firm is dedicated to protecting the rights of workers in New York who have been denied their rightful pay. With a team of experienced lawyers and a deep understanding of wage and hour laws, we are well-equipped to advocate for workers who have been denied their rightful pay.
If you have been a victim of wage theft or have any questions about your rights as an employee, it is important to discuss your case with an unpaid wages lawyer as soon as possible. Get in touch with us today to receive the support and guidance you need to protect your rights and recover the wages you are entitled to.
The employment lawyers here at The Howley Law Firm can help you untangle the complicated web of laws and regulations that govern your wages and overtime. With our decades of legal experience, we are fully qualified to represent you in any employment dispute. We will also work closely with you to ensure you understand the process. Call our law offices at 212-601-2728 to schedule an appointment with one of our dedicated attorneys. We look forward to meeting you.
The cost of hiring an unpaid-wage lawyer varies depending on the lawyer’s experience and the complexity of your case. Some lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if they win your case, while others charge an hourly rate.
Unpaid wage lawyers typically handle cases involving wage theft, failure to pay overtime, and violations of minimum wage laws, among other related issues.