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Court Explains Elements of a New York Overtime Wage Violation Claim

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.

To establish liability for unpaid overtime wages under the FLSA, a plaintiff must establish that he or she performed work for which he or she was not adequately compensated and that the employer possessed actual or constructive knowledge of the work. In other words, the plaintiff must produce adequate evidence of the amount of hours he or she worked without compensation, after which the burden shifts to the employer to provide evidence of the precise hours worked.

In the subject case, the plaintiff argued that her wage statements reflected that she worked forty hours per week, but that she was never paid for any hours worked in excess of forty hours. The court was not persuaded by the plaintiff’s argument, however, finding that the employer’s precise records showing the time the plaintiff began and ceased working each day did not indicate she worked in excess of forty hours, once a half-hour was deducted from each day for her lunch break. The court noted that under the Department of Labor regulations, bona fide meal periods, which are the times an employee is not required to work, do not count towards compensable hours. Thus, the court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Consult an Experienced New York Employment Attorney

If your employer failed to pay you wages you are owed, you should consult an experienced wage and hour attorney to discuss what recourse may be available. The seasoned employment attorneys of Gerstman Schwartz LLP possess the skills and experience needed to assist you in the pursuit of any wages or damages you may be owed. You can contact us through our online form or by calling (212) 227-7070 for our Manhattan office or (516) 880-8170 for our Garden City office to set up a free and confidential meeting.

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