Wages are typically one of the largest expenses for employers and they often attempt to avoid obligations and do not properly pay employees for the work that they perform. The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act and New York State and New York City laws cover a wide range of workers concerning their wages. These laws ensure that non-exempt employees are paid minimum wages and receive time-and-a-half for hours worked in excess of 40 per week.
Sometimes employers subtly violate wage-and-hour laws. For example, employers misclassify employees to avoid paying overtime. It is common for an employer to pay employees a salary or improperly designate them as independent contractors and at the same time require them to come in early, stay late and work on weekends. The designation as a salaried employee or independent contractor, however, does not necessarily permit an employer to avoid overtime obligations. Also, restaurant employers misappropriate gratuities from the servers to keep a portion and/or share these sums with non-tipped staff members. This is a theft of the wages earned by the servers and those in tip positions. Finally, employers commonly fail to pay commissions earned or bonuses guaranteed. Employers feel free to withhold these sums because they do not understand that New York laws provide for strict penalties for this type of behavior, and employees are often unaware that a remedy is available to them.
It is illegal for an employer to terminate or mistreat an employee for making wage theft complaints. These laws are designed to permit employees to obtain the wages that they are owed without fear of reprisal.