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I was not paid my wages — what can I do?

above-the-bar-logo-no12Many employees and former employees ask our award-winning New York Employment Lawyer this question. This can be a difficult and delicate situation. Our employment law attorneys have helped clients get paid whether it was unpaid wages, bonuses, commissions or shares. There are several things you should considering doing. First, you may want to discuss the reason for non-payment with the company and see if the company agrees with you the fact you are owed money and the amount you are owed. It may helpful to get the Company’s acknowledgement in writing. Second, if an acknowledgement is not an option, make sure you keep track of all hours that you worked that you were not paid for. Although your employer is required by law to maintain accurate time and payroll records, in some instances they do not and quite frankly, there may disputes between your hours worked and the company’s records. Your records could be helpful in pursuing a claim. Unpaid wage claims by New York State based employees are typically are brought under two laws – The Fair Labor Standards Act and The New York Labor Law.

FEDERAL LAW — The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law that governs minimum wage, overtime pay, and recordkeeping regarding full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in public sector. It is important to note that the federal law does not apply to every employer – in short, it applies to employers whose annual gross volume of sales made or business done is more than $500,000 and who have workers engaged in interstate commerce, producing goods for interstate commerce, or handling, selling, or otherwise working on goods or materials that have been moved in or produced for such commerce by any person. If a company is engaged in interstate commerce but the gross sales volume is slightly less than $500,000.00, in certain circumstances, a claim could be filed and litigation/discovery could focus on the monetary limit. In general, the time to bring a claim under the federal law is 3 years for willful violations and 2 years for other violations. Liquidated damages intended to be a penalty may also be available.

STATE LAW — The New York Labor Law (State Labor Law) applies to many more employers and does not have $500k gross annual sales requirement. Importantly, the statute of limitations time to bring a claim is six years. As a result, the state law is broader is time and scope and affords greater protection to employees. The state statute also provides for penalty in the form of liquidated damages. Connecticut and New Jersey have state statutes as well.

Each situation is different and the remedies and enforcement mechanisms vary under the statutes. Because the statute of limitations can be running and limit the time period within you can pursue your claim, it is important to seek counsel immediately. Other laws could impact potential claims as well.

Some common violations occur (i) when an individual works but is not paid for any of the time worked; (ii) when a non-exempt individual works but is not paid for any overtime pay; (iii) an individual is paid at the wrong rate of pay; or (iv) when an individual is not paid an earned bonus or commission. In addition, some workers may have a claim for misclassification if they were deemed independent contractors instead of as employees.

Theft of an employee’s wages is a serious issue and should not be tolerated. Contact our NYC Employment Lawyer for a confidential consultation to learn your rights.


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.

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