Q: I am not a US citizen and do not have a green card. Can I file a file a claim for unpaid wages?

A: Yes, all employees are entitled to minimum wage and overtime regardless of their immigration status.

Q: I am paid in cash and does not have time records. Can I file a claim for unpaid wages?

A: Yes, no matter you are paid totally in cash, or part in cash and part by check, you are entitled to pursue your claims for unpaid wages.  In addition, the federal and New York state law require an employer to keep payroll records and time records. An employee’s testimony about his or her work hours itself is enough to show the hours worked.

Q: Do I have to pay you attorney fee first to start a lawsuit against my employer?

A: No. This law firm takes a contingent fee approach for Plaintiff’s case. The firm only receive 33.3% of recovery obtained. If there is no net recovery when case is closed including settled or tried, Attorney will receive no attorney’s fees.

Q: What is the current minimum wage in New York State?

A:  In 2017, the minimum wage is $11.00 per hour for New York City employers with 11 or more employees, and is $10.50 per hour for New York City employers with 10 or less employees.  For employers in Long Island and Westchester the minimum wage is $10.00 per hour, while everywhere it is $9.70 per hour. Please see the chart below for more information about minimum wages of employees in the hospitality industry.

Hospitality Industry

BASIC MINIMUM HOURLY RATE (per hour)
… As of 12/31/16 12/31/17 12/31/18 12/31/19 12/31/20 12/31/21
GENERAL MINIMUM WAGE
NYC – Large Employers (of 11 or more) $11.00 $13.00 $15.00
Item #2 Description Discount: $4.00
NYC – Small Employers (10 or less) $10.50 $12.00 $13.50 $15.00
Long Island & Westchester $10.00 $11.00 $12.00 $13.00 $14.00 $15.00
Remainder of New York $9.70 $10.40 $11.10 $11.80 $12.50 TBD

Hospitality Industry

State
TIPPED FOOD SERVICE WORKERS (per hour)
… As of 12/31/16 12/31/17 12/31/18 12/31/19 12/31/20 12/31/21
CASH WAGE PAID BY EMPLOYER (minimum)
NYC – Large Employers (of 11 or more) $7.50 $8.65 $10.00 $10.00 $10.00 $10.00
NYC – Small Employers (10 or less) $7.50 $8.00 $9.00 $10.00 $10.00 $10.00
Long Island & Westchester $7.50 $7.50 $8.00 $8.65 $9.35 $10.00
Remainder of New York State $7.50 $7.50 $7.50 $7.85 $8.35 TBD

Q: What is overtime?

A: Non-exempt employees must be paid 1.5x their regular hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of forty in a work week.  For example if an employee earns $10.00 per hour, they must be paid $15.00 for every hour after 40 hours in a week.  For domestic “live-in” workers overtime must be paid after forty-four hours.

Q: Who is entitled to overtime?

A: All employees are entitled to overtime unless they fall under a specific exemption.  Under New York and Federal Law certain occupations are considered “exempt.”  These include, but are not limited to, executives and administrators earning more than $675 per week, professionals, outside salespersons, commissioned sales people, and interstate truck drivers.  If you do not fall under an exemption you must be paid overtime.

Q: May employers pay fixed salaries?

A: All non-exempt employees must be paid based on the number of hours they work.  Employees who are paid fixed daily, weekly, or monthly salaries must still be paid overtime for any work performed in excess of forty hours in a workweek.

Q: What is spread of hours pay?

A: Under New York State law employees who are not paid at the minimum wage must be paid for an extra hour at the applicable minimum wage for each day the employee worked ten or more hours.  In the hospitality industry all non-exempt employees are entitled to spread of hours pay.

Q: Should I bring a lawsuit if I am still employed by the company? Can I be fired for bringing a claim?

A: Yes, you may bring a lawsuit if you are still employed the by company.  The Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law both contain anti-retaliation provisions.  This means that employers are prohibited from taking any adverse action, including termination, against an employee who files a complaint for unpaid wages.

Q: May an employer deduct money from an employee’s wages?

A: An employer cannot deduct money from an employee’s wages for breakages, cash shortages, fines or any other losses to the business.  However, the employer is allowed to deduct certain items from an employee’s wages such as federal or state taxes, insurance premiums or union dues, etc.

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