When a person puts forth effort for a job and the employer refuses to pay, the employee is left with some unpleasant emotions as well as some unpaid bills. Fortunately, there are federal and state laws available to protect a New York employee from an employer who fails or refuses to pay.
Many New York workers are still waiting for changes to overtime exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Department of Labor has announced proposed regulatory changes in the past, but an announcement in October 2018 pushed them back once more to March 2019. According to an announcement from the agency, the proposed regulation will include an updated salary level to be classified as an exempt worker. Public input will be sought on the proposed salary level and other issues related to overtime.
New York workers being shorted on their paychecks is a very common occurrence. A recent study of low-wage workers throughout the country concluded that 25 percent of the people received pay that did not equal minimum wage. Shortages sometimes reached as high as $1 per hour. On average, the incorrect paychecks were $51 a week less than they should have been. Although the problem is common among low-wage workers, people at all income levels experience pay shortages.
Even 55 years after the Equal Pay Act was first signed into law in 1963, many women working in New York and across the country continue to face a gender pay gap. This issue continues to affect a broad swath of American women, particularly women of color who face multifaceted elements of discrimination in many cases. Every year, advocates draw attention to this issue by marking Equal Pay Day, indicating the day to which an average woman needs to work to make up for the pay gap with an average man from the prior year.
Employees who work in restaurants or otherwise earn their wages in tips may be interested to learn that on April 16, it was reported that the state labor commissioner began a series of public hearings about the topic. The first public hearing took place on April 20 and allowed advocacy groups and others to discuss tips.
In 2017, more than $35 million in stolen wages was returned to 36,446 workers in New York. This was an increase over 2016, during which $34 million was recovered on behalf of 27,42 workers in the state. The governor of New York also announced that an additional $1 million had been provided to the Department of Labor to expand its staff.
New York employers and others throughout the country are generally not responsible for paying workers for time commuting to and from work. This is generally true even if they are commuting between job sites or doing so using a company car. According to an opinion letter from the Department of Labor Wage Hour Division, employees can be entitled to pay for extended periods of travel away from home.
New York public employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act's wage and hour rules should be careful that any volunteer work they undertake for their employer doesn't run afoul of those guidelines. Many volunteer situations are not allowed under FLSA's rules for severance, commissions and bonuses. The activities not included could result in the employee volunteer's organization being cited for a failure to pay for work performed. This is intended for the protection of both workers and employers.
Companies like Uber and GrubHub have made life easier for many New York residents, and they have put money in the pocket of many workers as well. However, it has led to a question as to the classification of these workers, and a California federal district court is the scene of a trial on this very matter.
Some New Yorkers continue to do work for their employers after they have gotten off of work and returned home. This may include responding to emails, returning calls and other tasks. If these employees are considered to be non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act, their off-duty emails, phone calls and texts may be compensable under the labor laws.