The lawyers at Joseph Kilada, P.C. have a wealth of experience in Federal and State courts. Having the right lawyer to pursue your Overtime Compensation or minimum wage case is critical. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there has been a recent rise in New York labor law violations, including paying workers at rates below minimum wage, failing to compensate for overtime worked, and paying employees in cash off the books. Over the past two years, the violations have become more severe—studies show a dramatic increase in the number of cases where employees endure unpaid minimum wage and/or overtime compensation.
In just one segment of the Long Island restaurant industry, Department of Labor investigations led to the recovery of well over $2 million in liquidated damages and lost wages for employees of pizza and pasta restaurants. The most common cases involve paying employees below the minimum wage, which reflects a drastic change from ten years ago, when such violations were considered rare.
The severity of these wage conditions is alarming. The FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) and New York State maximum “spread of hours” are not respected in many cases; often, over forty (40) hours per week without appropriate pay is standard employer practice. The guidelines state that an employee working in excess of forty hours per workweek must be compensated at a premium of time and one-half hourly. Yet a gas station on Long Island was found with employees working 17-hour days, seven days a week (a 119-hour workweek)—far beyond the maximum hours provided for in the FLSA—with a compensation range of $250-300 weekly (representing an hourly wage of approximately $2.10 to $2.50).
The employee complaints that lead to discovery and investigation of labor violations are essential. Since issues such as unpaid overtime are rapidly becoming an industry standard, compelling all businesses to properly compensate their employees will lessen the chances of losing customers to those committing the violations, who frequently state that they use mishandling wages as a means to keep their product prices competitive.
While it is a common occurrence, an intentional policy and practice of refusing to pay is unlawful, and there is legal recourse for those who suspect their employers are in violation of their rights as employees, covered by New York Labor Law Sec. 663(1). Cases won or settled typically involve a declaratory judgment and recoup unpaid minimum wages, FLSA or New York State overtime wages (a statutory rate of not less than time and one-half the regular rate), award liquidated damages and/or punitive damages and pay attorneys’ and expert fees, among other relief such as prejudgment and post judgment interest. Further, the court will grant an injunction prohibiting the employer from engaging from these practices going forward.