Introduction– El-Hag & Associates, P.C is a law firm that focuses on unpaid wages and unpaid minimum wage in Westchester, New York and the surrounding areas, and unpaid overtime in Westchester New York and the surrounding areas. As an employment lawyer in Westchester New York, I have seen many instances of wage theft. However, many employees weren’t even aware of that their wages were being stolen because they were unaware of their rights. Here is some information to educate you on wage theft so you can make sure you are paid what you are owed:
1. HOW WAGE THEFT OCCURS WHEN YOUR BOSS PAYS YOU BY THE DAY AND NOT BY THE HOUR.
You MUST: (1) be paid at least the N.Y State Minimum Wage for all hours worked and (2) be paid overtime for all time worked over 40 hours in a workweek. However, when employees are paid by the day, many times they are not paid the minimum wage or overtime because they and their boss do not keep track of the actual hours the employee works in the week.
The law requires your income to be calculated on a weekly basis. So you need to do some simple math to determine if you are being paid properly.
For example, I have seen employers in Westchester, New York steal wages by paying their employees by the day. The employees would be paid $75 a day off the books, but they would work 12 hours a day 6 days a week. So although the employee would be earning $450.00 a week, they were not being paid the minimum wage or overtime. Here is how it works out:
- Total Hours Worked In Week: 72 hours (12 hours a day X 6 Days)
- Total Income Earned in Week: $450 ($75 a day x 6 days)
- Actual Hourly Rate: $6.25 per hour ($450 weekly pay / 72 hours)
- Minimum Wage That Should Be Paid: $630.00 ( $8.75 NY Minimum Wage X 72 hours).
- Minimum Wage Owed For Week: $180.00 ($630 – $455)
This example above shows that an employee lost $180.00 in the week by not being paid the minimum wage. It does not even include overtime wages! To calculate the overtime, the math is as follows:
- Total Hours Worked In Week: 72 hours (12 hours a day X 6 Days)
- Minimum Overtime Rate: $13.13 per hour ($8.75 minimum wage X 1.5)
- Total overtime hours: 32 hours (72 hours worked -40 hours regular workweek)
- Overtime Rate Owed In Addition To Minimum Wage: $4.38 per hour ($13.13 overtime rate – $8.75 Minimum Wage).
- Total Overtime Owed: $140.16 ($4.38 Overtime Pay X 32 Hours Overtime Worked.
So in total, this employee was not paid $320.16 for the workweek. Generally, for damages, an employee would receive double the wages owed, so the employee would receive $640.32 if a successful lawsuit were brought against the employer. If this occurs every week in a one year period the employee would be losing $16,648.32 in one year, and double that for damages ($33,296.64).
So it is very important to track your hours worked if you are being paid by the day!
2. HOW WAGE THEFT OCCURS BY NOT BEING PAID FOR ALL HOURS WORKED.
Many times an employee is not paid for all of the time they are required to be on/at the job. This usually happens in three situations:
A. Reporting to work first thing in the morning. You must be paid if your employer requires you to show up at a certain time. Many times the employer will require that you show up for work, but will not let you punch in until the work is ready to be performed. This is an unlawful practice. Once you report to the job you must be paid, if your boss told you to report at that time.
B. Working through lunch. If your employer requires you to work through lunch then your employer cannot deduct any lunchtime from your pay. Some times an employer will automatically deduct 30 minutes for lunch from your paycheck for each day you worked even if you did not take a lunch break. Do not allow this to happen. If your boss knows you work through lunch, then you must be paid for that time.
C. Finishing the workday. Sometimes an employer will ask you to do some more work after you have punched off the clock. If you are being asked to work after you punched out, then you need to keep track of the time to make sure you are getting your overtime and pay for all time you provided services to your employer.
2. HOW WAGE THEFT OCCURS WHEN AN EMPLOYER BOUNCES YOUR PAYCHECK.
Some employers will bounce a check, and then apologize and tell you they will make it up at some point in the future. Then they keep on not paying you the full amount owed, and they might even bounce more checks in the future. You end up in a cycle where you do not want to quit because you are owed so much money and you do not want to lose the opportunity to recoup your wages. This is also known as “Stalled Wages”. It happens a lot in the construction industry.
In New York, manual laborers are to be paid weekly. So make sure you receive your paycheck on payday, and do not get trapped in the cycle of being owed money.
3. HOW WAGE THEFT OCCURS WHEN YOU LEAVE YOUR JOB.
Usually, an employer will withhold your last paycheck or make certain deductions from your last paycheck for bogus expenses. Your employer must provide you your last paycheck on the payday immediately following your last day of employment. And, your employer cannot deduct money from your wages without your express authorization and only for benefits provided through the job. Many times the employer feels it is only one paycheck so it is not enough for an attorney to take the case. Do not feel this way, if your boss does not pay you your last paycheck, you have rights, and El-Hag & Associates, P.C can get you the money you are owed.
Awareness is the first step to stopping wage theft. If any of these scenarios applies to you, then you should call El-Hag & Associates, P.C today. The most important thing is to keep track of the hours you work. Do not rely on your employer to do that for you. It can add up to a significant amount of money.
In Westchester New York, many working men and women living in Yonkers, Mount Vernon and New Rochelle are victims of wage theft. That is why El-Hag & Associates, P.C is a Westchester unpaid wage and unpaid overtime law firm, focusing on employment law in Westchester New York. If you find that you have not been paid properly, contact El-Hag & Associates, P.C today and we can help you get the unpaid wages or unpaid overtime that your boss has not paid you. Make sure you protect your rights and your livelihood.
To learn more about your rights under the wage and overtime laws, disability law, or family & medical leave law, visit:
El-Hag & Associates, P.C 777 Westchester Ave, Suite 101, White Plains, New York, 10604
- Http://www.Elhaglaw.com • [email protected] • (914) 218-6190 (office) • (914) 206 -4176 (fax)
Disclaimer- ** Disclaimer- This blog post is applicable to employees working in NY State. Some of the information is applicable outside of NY State, but you should check the laws of the state in which you work. Additionally, this information is not intended as legal advice. If you have legal questions CALL OUR OFFICE. We do not want you to take any action relying on this information without being fully informed. You need to make sure that your circumstances protect you under the law before you act.