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Articles Posted in Wage and Hour Violations

Under both state and federal law, employers have to pay employees the minimum wage defined by statute and must pay eligible employees overtime, and employers that fail to do so may be held civilly liable. While many wage and hour claims must be resolved via trial, in cases in which an employer’s violations are clear, an employee may be able to obtain summary judgment on the question of liability. This was illustrated in a recent New York case in which the court found that the employer was liable for wage violations as a matter of law, and therefore a trial on the issue was not necessary. If you believe your employer failed to pay you appropriate wages in violation of wage laws, you should meet with a dedicated New York wage and hour attorney to discuss your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Employment History

It is alleged that from August 2003 through August 2018, the plaintiff worked as a sales-clerk for the defendant corporation which sold wholesale beauty products. The plaintiff did not have administrative or executive duties. He did not receive a notice from the defendant regarding his pay when he started and never completed any paperwork. He was paid a set amount every two weeks, regardless of how many hours he worked. He received his pay in cash and in a paycheck, but his paystubs did not reflect the cash amounts. Throughout the course of his employment, he worked fifty-seven hours each week. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging the defendant’s practices violated the New York Labor Law, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act. After discovery ended, the plaintiff moved for summary judgment on the issue of liability.

Proving an Employer Failed to Pay Minimum Wage and Overtime Compensation

Under the New York Labor Law, every employer that has ten or fewer employees must pay each of its employees the minimum wage set forth by the statute for each hour worked in New York City. In assessing whether an employer committed a minimum wage violation, a court will consider the average hourly wage of the employee, which is calculated by dividing the total pay an employee received in a workweek by the total number of hours worked during that week.

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In many instances, an employer that fails to abide by the law with regard to employee wages will not only shortchange one employee but will engage in a practice of underpaying staff members. Thus, in many cases, aggrieved employees may be able to file a class-action lawsuit against the employer, seeking damages for wage and hour violations. Simply because an employer failed to pay appropriate wages to more than one employee does not mean a basis exists to pursue a class action case, though. Rather, as discussed in a recent New York case, the plaintiff must prove certain elements before a court will grant class certification. If you were not paid the wages you are owed from your employer, you should speak to an assertive New York wage and hour violation attorney to determine whether you and other employees may be owed compensation.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the named plaintiffs were employed as food runners and as a sommelier with the defendant restaurant. They frequently worked in excess of forty hours per week and worked a spread of ten or more hours, for which they were not paid a spread of hours premium, and were required to perform non-tipped side work despite the fact that a tip credit was taken from their wages. The plaintiffs filed a class action complaint against the defendant, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The plaintiffs then filed a motion to certify the class.

Certification of a Class in a Wage and Hour Violation Case

The court explained that class certification in federal cases is governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). Specifically, FRCP 25(a) requires that the party seeking certification demonstrate typicality, commonality, numerosity, and adequacy of representation. A plaintiff seeking class certification must also meet one of the requirements of FRCP 25(b) as well. In the subject case, the plaintiffs sought certification pursuant to FRCP 25(b)(3), which required them to show that question of fact or law common to all of the class members predominates over issues that affect individual members.

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State and federal wage laws protect many employees from unjust wage practices. For example, employers must pay certain employees overtime for any hours worked in excess of forty hours per week, unless the employees fall under an exemption. While in some cases, it is clear that a plaintiff seeking overtime wages falls under an exemption, in other instances, it is disputed. This was evidenced in a recent case in which a New York appellate court was called upon to rule on whether an assistant basketball coach fell under the federal wage law exemptions. If you believe your employer unjustly denied you overtime, it is in your best interest to consult a New York wage and hour attorney to discuss your rights.

Factual Background of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff worked as the coach of the women’s basketball team for the defendant community college, and as the assistant to the associate dean of physical education and athletics. The plaintiff typically worked thirty-five hours per week as the assistant to the associate dean, and during the basketball season spent thirty-five hours per week coaching as well. As the coach, he was also tasked with recruiting players and overseeing all practices and games. The plaintiff began working in both positions in 2010 but did not receive any overtime pay until 2018, during which he received overtime wages meant to compensate for overtime worked in 2017.

Reportedly, in February 2018, it was alleged that the plaintiff made a loan to a student that violated NCAA rules. The plaintiff was ultimately terminated, after which he filed a lawsuit against the defendant setting forth various claims, including claims that the defendant violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment arguing, in part, that the plaintiff fell under the FLSA overtime exemptions.

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Under state and federal law, certain employees are entitled to overtime pay. Thus, if an employer fails to pay an employee wages he or she is owed, the employee may not only be able to recover past wages but may be awarded additional damages as well. In a recent ruling, a federal district court analyzed what a plaintiff alleging her employer denied her overtime wages must prove to set forth a successful claim. If you work in New York and you believe your employer unjustly denied you wages you are owed, you should speak with a trusted New York wage and hour attorney to discuss your potential claims.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Employment

Allegedly, the plaintiff worked for the defendant company as a billing assistant. When the plaintiff was hired, she received a pay notice that listed her hourly rate. The area of the notice that listed the overtime rate was blank, however. The defendant employer calculated each employee’s weekly hours via records created by a timekeeping machine. The plaintiff was involved in a dispute with her supervisor and was ultimately fired. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant asserting numerous claims, including the allegations that the defendant did not pay her overtime wages. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment with regards to the plaintiff’s wage and overtime claim.

Proving Wage and Hour Violations

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees are entitled to at least one and a half times their regular wage for hours worked over forty hours per week. Further, New York incorporates the FLSA’s standards into its overtime compensation scheme. Thus, in many cases, the courts will analyze allegations regarding unpaid overtime in violation of the FLSA and New York law jointly.

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Although employment in New York is generally at will, people who are members of a union may be subject to contractual agreements. Specifically, union members are often bound by collective bargaining agreements that dictate not only the terms of their employment but how any disputes must be handled. Recently, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York discussed when plaintiffs may be forced to arbitrate a wage claim pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement. If you are a member of a union and your employer failed to pay you the compensation you are owed, it is advisable to speak with a dedicated New York wage and hour attorney to determine what recourse is available for your damages.

Facts Regarding the Collective Bargaining Agreement

Allegedly, the plaintiffs were employed by the defendant waste management company prior to 2015. While the plaintiffs were employed by the defendant, they were members of a union that signed a collective bargaining agreement with the defendant, with a term period of January 1, 2012, through December 31, 2015. In early December 2015, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging eight causes of action arising out of the defendant’s failure to pay the plaintiffs wages they were owed.

Reportedly, in December 2015, after the plaintiffs had terminated their agreement with the defendant, the union executed a memorandum extending the previous collective bargaining agreement until December 31, 2015. In December 2016, a second memorandum agreement was signed that modified the grievance procedure of the agreement by including an arbitration clause. The defendant then filed a motion to compel arbitration based on the terms of the second memorandum. The plaintiffs opposed the motion on the grounds they were no longer employees and therefore were no longer subject to the agreement.

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In New York, state and federal laws protect employees from unfair wage practices, such as inadequate pay, and require employers to provide employees with hour and wage notices and wage statements. Similarly, the laws protect employees from retaliation for reporting wage violations. Thus, employees harmed by their employers’ inappropriate wage practices may be able to seek recourse in the civil courts. Recently, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York discussed what a plaintiff alleging retaliation for reporting unfair wage practices must show to recover damages in a wage violation case.  If your employer denied you the compensation you are owed, you should meet with a skillful New York wage and hour attorney to discuss your potential claims.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Employment

Allegedly, the plaintiff was employed as a maintenance repair worker by the defendant employer, from July 2013 through February 2018. He was paid a fixed salary throughout the duration of his employment. The plaintiff worked sixty-two hours per week and was required to work without lunch breaks. He also worked ten or more hours a day without receiving spread of hours compensation on the days he was on call and was not provided wage statements or hour and wage notices. He complained regarding the fact that he was underpaid on several occasions, including to his direct supervisor, but no remedial actions were taken. The plaintiff was subsequently terminated. He then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging violations of the New York Labor Law (NYLL) and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and asserting retaliation claims. In response, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff failed to plead retaliation adequately.

Retaliation Claims Under the FLSA and NYLL

Pursuant to the FLSA, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee due to the fact that the employee filed a complaint under the FLSA. A plaintiff that alleges retaliation under the FLSA must show that he or she engaged in a protected activity, like filing an FLSA complaint, that the employer then took action that harmed the plaintiff, and a causal connection between the harmful action and the protected activity.

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