Can I Make A Claim For Unpaid Minimum Wage?
As of this writing, the minimum wage in New York is significantly higher than the current federal minimum wage ($15.00 per hour, vs $7.25 per hour). That said, minimum wage employees are still treated as largely expendable by a lot of employers, and it can be easy to think that any kind of unfair treatment by an employer will be ignored. It is crucial to remember that every employee has rights, and every employee has options they can pursue if they have not been paid what they are owed.
Wage Theft Is Real
As of 2021, every employee covered by minimum wage law in New York is entitled to $15.00 per hour, though some workers are not covered by minimum wage regulations. Unfortunately, it is all too common for employees to not receive what they are owed, either due to being required to work for less pay, or pushed to work unpaid overtime or other “off the clock” hours. These tactics are a non-exhaustive list of the ways employers may essentially steal from their employees, even those who make minimum wage.
There are several potential reasons why an employer may engage in unethical or inappropriate behavior in terms of how they treat their employees. For some, the impetus is monetary, while for others, wage theft may be part of a wider discriminatory pattern, or in retaliation for an employee providing information to a federal agency (“whistleblowing”) or otherwise contributing to an investigation of their employer. Regardless of the reasons, though, an employee who has been shortchanged or otherwise deprived of what the are owed has the right to seek legal remedies.
Seeking Your Unpaid Wages
As with most types of employment law-related claims, you will generally be advised to try and file a formal complaint in-house before seeking outside assistance. However, if this is unsuccessful, or if it leads to retaliation against you, your next step is to contact the New York Department of Labor and file a claim. Unlike in many other employment-related proceedings, the Department will try and assist you in collecting any wages you are owed. This is generally recommended for most cases, with a lawsuit being more of a last resort.
One potential positive outcome of making an unpaid wage claim with the New York Department of Labor instead of filing suit – if your employer is found to be at fault, and your claim involves unpaid minimum wage, breaks, or overtime, you can often collect what are known as liquidated damages. Liquidated damages can total up to 100 percent of your unpaid wages – for example, if you are owed $2,000, you may be awarded $4,000 if the Department of Labor decides that your employer acted inappropriately.
Contact A New York Wage & Hour Attorney
Even those who make minimum wage are entitled to every penny they deserve, despite some employers’ tendencies to overwork and ill-treat their employees. If you believe that you have had wages withheld, or you have been subject to other wage & hour violations from your employer, calling a New York unpaid overtime attorney at the firm of Mansell Law, LLC may help get you on the path to recovering what you are owed. Contact us today at 646-921-8900 to speak to an attorney.