New York City Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages Lawyer

New York City Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages Lawyer

You deserve fair compensation for the work that you do. Unfortunately, employers don’t always pay their workers the full amount that they’re owed for their labor. This is called wage theft and it can take many forms such as skimming tips, withholding bonuses, denying your legally protected breaks, or failing to pay the minimum wage or overtime rate.

New York City Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages Lawyer

In one five-year period, 127,000 New York employees across multiple industries had over $203 million in wages stolen by wage theft – and this is considered to be an undercount. You may be one of those employees. Sometimes, wage theft could be the result of an unintentional administrative error. In other cases, your company may be engaging in a pattern of bad faith behaviors that affects not just your paycheck but multiple coworkers, too.

New York law empowers workers across the city to stand up for their rights, claim the wages that they rightfully deserve, and help put an end to wage theft. At Mirza Law, we understand the importance of compensating employees properly. We’re here to guide you through the legal process and help you recover every penny that you’ve earned.

Contact us now to get started with your free consultation.

What Are the Wage & Hour Laws in New York?

New York has robust wage and hour laws to protect the rights of workers like you. The state’s employment laws are designed to make sure that you’re paid properly for your hard work.

  • Minimum Wage – Under New York State law, employers must pay whatever state or local minimum wage applies, which may change by location and company size.
  • Overtime Pay – If you work more than 40 hours in a workweek, you are generally entitled to receive overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times your regular hourly wage.
  • Meals and Breaks – Depending on the length of your workday, employees are entitled to a certain number of paid meal and rest breaks during their shifts.
  • Pay Frequency – Employers in New York must pay their employees at least twice a month on specific days. Failing to pay workers on time could be a violation of the law.
  • Final Paycheck – When you leave a job, your employer must provide your final paycheck to you in a timely manner, without unnecessary delays.

The law also provides a path to reclaim unpaid wages that have been illegally withheld from you. You can report wage theft to the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) or you can file a lawsuit to hold your employer accountable and get the wages you deserve.

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Does New York Have a Minimum Wage Law?

Yes. One of the most important aspects of employment laws in New York is the state’s minimum wage law. The minimum wage sets a baseline for the lowest amount employers can pay their employees, ensuring that even the most vulnerable workers are compensated fairly.

The minimum wage in New York can vary depending on where you work and often reflects the cost of living at that location. For example, New York City generally has a higher minimum wage compared to other parts of the state.

The minimum wage also changes and adjusts every year to keep up with rising inflation and living costs. Employers must stay informed of these annual adjustments and increase employee wages as necessary when new minimum wage laws go into effect.

In industries like dining and hospitality where workers receive tips as part of their compensation, employers can put a tip credit towards meeting the minimum wage. However, employers must ensure that a worker’s total compensation (including tips) adds up to at least minimum wage.

Do All Employees Qualify for Minimum Wage?

In New York, most employees are entitled to minimum wage protection. Exceptions include:

  • Tipped Workers such as wait staff may be paid a lower hourly rate as long as their total compensation with tips meets or exceeds the minimum wage.
  • Certain industry workers such as farm workers and live-in domestic workers like nannies or housekeepers have specific laws that govern their wages and working conditions. These may differ from general minimum wage laws.
  • Exempt employees who meet specific criteria for executive, administrative, or professional roles may be exempt from certain minimum wage and hour laws. These criteria are detailed in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Minors under the age of 18 have different minimum wage rates than adults.

Workers who’ve been classified as independent contractors are also exempt from most minimum wage and hour laws. Some employers may take advantage of this exemption to avoid paying their employees the full wages and benefits that the law requires.

What Is Employee Misclassification?

Employee misclassification is a common issue that can lead to wage theft. Illegal employee misclassification happens when a company incorrectly classifies a worker as an independent contractor instead of an employee. This misclassification can deprive you of important benefits and wage protections that you should be entitled to receive.

Because employers don’t have to pay minimum wage, overtime rates, or other benefits to independent contractors, companies use misclassification as a way to try to save money. However, this type of behavior is illegal and can be punished under the law.

Federal law has guidelines to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, including factors such as their independence and control over their work. Employers must follow these guidelines when classifying their workers.

If you suspect you’ve been misclassified, a New York wage theft lawyer can help. Correcting your employment classification can make a huge difference in the wages you take home.

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What Should I Do if I’ve Been Denied Overtime Pay?

In New York, employees are generally entitled to receive 1.5 times their regular hourly wage for each hour worked over 40 hours in a workweek. Some employees such as salaried managers and administrative professionals may be exempt from overtime pay – however, this exemption is not automatic and you must meet specific criteria to be exempt.

Overtime pay is a critical component of wage and hour laws in New York. If you’ve been denied overtime pay, you can take certain steps to try to rectify the situation.

You should be able to ask your employer for accurate records of your employment, including the hours you’ve worked. If your employer can’t produce these records or they’re inaccurate compared to your personal records, this can be a red flag for wage theft.

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How Do I Claim Unpaid Wages in New York City?

If you suspect that you have unpaid wages, you have the right to take certain actions to recover them. New York has processes in place to help you claim what you’re rightfully owed.

  1. Document Everything – Start by keeping detailed records of your hours worked, your pay stubs, and any communication with your employer regarding your wages or hours. these documents could be crucial as evidence in your wage theft claim.
  2. Speak to Your Employer – By law, employers must take action to combat wage theft when reported by employees. It’s illegal for your employer to retaliate against you if you communicate your desire to address these issues with them. Keep your own records of these conversations in case they’ll be relevant as evidence.
  3. Consult With a Wage Theft Lawyer – If your employer fails to resolve the issue, you have a couple of legal options, including contacting the New York State Department of Labor to file a wage theft claim or filing a lawsuit with an employment lawyer to recover your unpaid wages yourself. The best option for you depends on your unique circumstances. A good attorney can help you determine how to proceed.

In many cases, there is a statute of limitations on how long you have to file a wage theft claim. Once you pass this legal deadline, you could be leaving those wages on the table forever. That’s why it’s important to start the process as soon as you realize something may be wrong.

If you’re unsure whether you have a strong case or you need guidance on how to proceed, a good New York wage theft attorney can evaluate your situation and help you determine the best course of action for you. At Mirza Law, we can help.

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Can I Sue My Employer for Not Paying Me Correctly in NYC?

While the New York State Department of Labor can investigate claims of wage theft, they’re already going through a massive backlog of cases totaling $79 million. Many employees haven’t gotten their wages for years, even after a NYSDOL investigation has awarded them recovery.

If you’ve been a victim of wage left or wage violations in New York City, the Department of Labor is not your only option. You also have the legal right to file a civil lawsuit – or take your case to court. A successful wage theft lawsuit can recover your overdue wages and other damages, such as the value of certain benefits and even punitive damages.

A wage theft lawsuit can help you:

  • Recover Your Unpaid Wages – A lawsuit is a direct way to seek recovery for the wages that you deserve, including unpaid overtime, withheld tips or bonuses, or any other compensation issues such as denied benefits or breaks. Depending on the extent and length of the wage theft, you could be owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Hold Your Employer Accountable – By engaging in wage theft, employers end up pocketing billions of dollars because of wages that should have gone to the workers who put in all the labor. A successful lawsuit puts these earnings where they belong.
  • Prevent Future Violations – A lawsuit can send a strong message to both your employer and other companies to discourage them from engaging in wage theft. When companies engage in especially bad behavior, courts may even order them to pay punitive damages to victims. This is a way of punishing employers who have acted in bad faith by deliberately stealing wages, ignoring previous complaints, or retaliating against workers who bring up issues with wage & hour violations.
  • Protect Your Co-Workers – You may not realize it, but you may not be the only worker experiencing wage theft at your workplace. Your coworkers and colleagues may be experiencing similar wage violations, which your claims may uncover. If enough employees are affected by these violations, a case could turn into a class action.

Not all wage theft lawsuits end up going to court, although that can be an option. Many lawsuits end up negotiating a settlement that covers your losses and damages. Whichever route you take, when you work with an experienced wage theft lawyer, their job is to champion your best interests at every turn. That includes fighting for a settlement that compensates you properly or, if your employer refuses to play ball, fighting for what you’re owed in court.

Your hard work deserves fair compensation and wage theft should never be tolerated. In the vibrant and diverse city of New York, Mirza Law is here to stand by your side and help you reclaim the wages that you’ve rightfully earned. Whether you’ve been denied overtime pay, experienced employee misclassification, or have unpaid wages, we will fight for your rights.

Your financial well-being matters and you are not alone in experiencing wage theft. You deserve every penny that you’ve earned. At Mirza Law, our experienced legal team is here to support you, advocate for your rights, and help you secure justice in the workplace.

Your consultation is free. Contact us now to get started.

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