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New York Employment Defense Lawyer Update for Small Businesses and Restaurants

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for top.lawyers.arrive.mag.2011.jpgThe New York Wage Theft Protection Act (“Act”) went into effect this month amending the New York State Labor Law. If you are a private sector employer, you need to make sure your company is in compliance before you are named in a lawsuit or administrative proceeding (which quite frankly, in these litigious times, may be sooner than later). The new Act imposes tougher penalties, including jail time, as well as strengthened enforcement to protect workers. If you are not paying your workers minimum wage, or overtime pay, or misclassifying them as independent contractors, call our Wage & Hour Defense Attorneys to help your company get into compliance with the Act.

Make sure that you are paying your employees their correct wages and overtime pay. See our prior Blog on how to calculate overtime. The Act allows liquidated damages of up to 100% of the total amount of wages due – this represents a 400% increase over the prior 25% liquidated damages amount which was available under the old law. In other words, employees may now be able to recover double the amount they are owed in wages and overtime. The Act also lets an employee recover prejudgment interest and attorneys’ fees. Furthermore, if you get a judgment against your employer in court, and he or she fails to pay you within 90 days, you can now collect an extra 15% of the judgment owed to you as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. Given the tougher penalties, employers need to stay on top of wage and hour laws as well as have accurate time keeping policies. Our experienced Wage and Hour Defense Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala can help you implement polices and practices for your company to avoid any violations that could result in costly lawsuits.

The old law required you to notify in writing all new hires of their regular rate of pay, regular pay day, and overtime pay rate. The Act now also requires you to include the basis of the wage payment. In other words, you must state whether the employee is being paid hourly, by shift, daily, weekly, by a fixed salary, or on a commission basis. You must also provide notice if you plan to claim tips or meal allowances as part of the minimum wage. The new Notice requirements provide that an employer must provide notice of any reduction in wages. However, you don’t have to provide notice for wage increases which will be reflected in the next wage payment statement. However, if you are in the hospitality business, you must provide notice for any changes in wages.

Violating the notice provisions in the Act can result in monetary penalties as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. Call our Wage and Hour Attorneys to help you avoid incurring unnecessary fines and penalties.

The Act also calls for criminal penalties if you do not pay your employees minimum wage or overtime pay. You may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and if convicted, you may be fined a minimum of $500 and up to $20,000 or could face imprisonment for up to one year. You can also face criminal penalties if you fail to maintain records.

If your employee files a complaint against you, fix the problem and don’t retaliate. The Act now contains anti-retaliation remedies which allow liquidated damages up to $10,000, reinstatement with back pay and/or front pay instead of back pay.

Given the increasing number of wage and hour lawsuits, now coupled with stiffer penalties and strengthened enforcement, make sure your company is in compliance with wage and hour laws. The best defense is prevention before you are found to be in violation of any state or federal laws. Call our Wage and Hour Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help ensure that you’re not in violation of any laws putting you or your company at risk.

Disclaimer: 

Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced employment law attorney in your state or jurisdiction.