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Why New York employers should avoid retaliating

Federal law protects workers who make wage complaints to and cooperate with U.S. Department of Labor investigations. If an employer finds out that a complaint was made, it is not allowed to retaliate or take other action against the employee who made it. Employers that do retaliate based on a wage complaint could face a variety of penalties including paying liquidated damages or lost wages.

This is what happened to the owners of a restaurant after terminating a cook who they believed made such a complaint. They believed that he was the one who leaked information that led to a federal investigation that found the company had underpaid employees by $25,000. In addition to the damages paid out, the restaurant lost one of the most loyal members of the organization.

In that case, it was also discovered that the employee had never made a complaint. However, if that worker had, the DOL would have investigated regardless of that worker's immigration status. This ensures that workers are paid fairly for their labor and that employers cannot attempt to undermine companies that are following hiring and wage laws. If necessary, cases will be resolved in court if an employer fails to otherwise resolve it in a timely and acceptable manner.

If an employee is not paid or is underpaid, it may be possible to take legal action against the employer. An attorney may review the case to determine if an individual was denied his or her wages or had wages withheld in an illegal or otherwise inappropriate manner. In the event that wages were withheld improperly, a worker may be entitled to back pay and other amounts.

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