Wage and Hour Law

Wigdor LLP has been at the forefront in litigating all types of wage and hour violations including failure to pay minimum wage, failure to pay overtime, failure to pay off-the-clock wages, unlawful withholding (or sharing) of tips and service charges, and unlawful wage deductions. These cases often involve complex analysis of statutes, rules, regulations and wage orders from state and federal agencies.

As a general rule, employees are entitled to be paid one-and-one-half times their regular hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Employees very often believe that they are not entitled to overtime compensation because they are paid a salary and are classified by their employer as “exempt.” However, employers very often misclassify their employees as “exempt” in an attempt to avoid paying overtime compensation. As a result, an individual may be entitled to overtime and other recovery under the wage laws even if the employer has labeled him or her as “exempt.” There are various categories of exemptions, and if you are interested in learning whether you are appropriately classified as “exempt” or whether the classification may be improper, you should speak with an attorney.

Similar to “exempt” misclassifications, employers sometimes label employees as “independent contractors” to avoid compliance with the wage laws, as the wage laws generally only apply to “employees.” For instance, independent contractors are rarely paid overtime when they work in excess of 40 hours per week and there are often significant reductions in their pay that would be unlawful for employees. Employers will often go to great lengths to make it appear as though its employees are “independent contractors,” such as by having the employees sign independent contractor agreements. However, even if an individual has signed an independent contractor agreement, it does not necessarily mean the individual is an “independent contractor.” The law provides that the determination as to whether an individual is an “employee” or “independent contractor” focuses on the actual relationship between the parties, not merely whether there is an independent contractor agreement in place. If you have been labeled an independent contractor by your employer, and believe this may have been done improperly, you should speak with an attorney for advice.

Although many people are familiar with the basic requirements of minimum wage and overtime laws, another very common wage violation occurs when employers fail to distribute tips, gratuities and service charges to its employees. Under New York State law, employers cannot retain any charge that its customers would reasonably expect to be a gratuity for the staff. This includes not only tips left by customers, but can also include mandatory “service charges” charged by restaurants, banquet halls and caterers for events. Wage and hour violations stemming from failure to distribute tips can occur in any industry where tipping is customary, such as restaurants, bars, taxi and limousine companies, and delivery services.

Federal and state wage and hour laws were enacted to protect workers from employer abuses and ensure employees are paid fairly. Wigdor LLP has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of clients who were subject to a variety of wage violations and has had numerous cases certified by the courts as class and/or collective actions. If you believe you may have been subject to any unlawful wage practices, you should speak with an attorney for advice.