With the American economy in the midst of its worst downturn in decades, corporations are trying to squeeze that last buck out of every corner they can. Job satisfaction is going down across the board. One largely unsung issue that may be elevating to epidemic proportions is “Off the Clock” work.
For many, going unpaid for the work you perform for your employer is illegal. Many corporations in the U.S. are, unfortunately, asking their workers to buck up and work without minimum wage or overtime pay. This violates both New York and Federal law. The plain fact of the matter is that the laws are designed to protect during the bad times as well as the good. Just because there is not as much money to go around does not mean that it is all right to ask workers to work off the clock without compensation.
Full Time Employees in New York
For the most part, New York State follows Federal guidelines when it comes to minimum wage and overtime. If a non-exempt employee is performing work of any sort for their employer, they are to be paid at least minimum wage for their work. If they are working over forty hours in a work week, then any time worked above that is eligible for overtime pay. Live in employees may claim overtime after forty-four hours as well. Naturally, standard exemptions apply to certain types of employees, including certain interships.
However, a controversial case is brewing in New York that might potentially change how the law sees interns nationwide. An intern is suing Harper’s Bazaar, claiming that minimum wage is due to all intern workers and that internships are exploitive. We will follow this case closely and continue to report on its significant role in the wage and hour litigation world.
Full Time Workers That Receive Tips
If your employer claims that you are not entitled to overtime pay because you receive tips in your line of work (such as a restaurant server, delivery driver, dancer, etc.), then your employer is out of compliance with New York and Federal law. All work performed by these types of workers are subject to minimum wage and overtime law.
If you are a non-exempt, hourly worker, an employer cannot refuse to pay you time working off the clock. You are entitled to be paid for all hours work at minimum wage or an overtime rate if over 40 hours in a work week. If you feel you are being forced to work “off the clock” meaning you are not being paid for your time, then you should contact an attorney familiar with these laws immediately. For a free consultation, contact the law offices of Valli Kane & Vagnini, LLP at (866) 441-2873. You need a talented lawyer that is not afraid to take on exploitive employers that disregard the law.
No state in the Union has taken more steps to protect its workers and employees than the state of New York. However, critics say the state went too far with the Wage Theft Protection Act. This act caps off what some industry leaders—especially in construction—call an explosion of bureaucratic red tape that renders New York business unprofitable and untenable. The law’s proponents have commented that the new Wage Theft Protection Act may actually protect New York’s employers from horrific, small business-destroying lawsuits. Read on for the basics of the WTPA debate.
As of February 1, the act requires that workers be notified of their wages annually. The WTPA Pay Rate form must include how much the employee is paid and when, the name and address of the employer, and allowances. The new form must be provided in English, and the employee’s primary language, if applicable. New York’s Labor Department provides translations in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Polish, and Haitian Creole. Failure to comply will result in fines up to $50 weekly.
Businesses have complained that the new paperwork burden will cost the state’s industry millions, and that the law will do little to curb shady work practices. The Wage Theft Protection Act is essentially, say critics, bureaucracy without function. However, the law may provide advantages to employers. For example, the WTPA may prevent lawsuits from employees that sue over pay disputes. As paperwork is a key component in all legal proceedings, this paperwork functions to protect employers in the event a dispute over pay turns into litigation.
Only time will tell if the WTPA changes the way New York does business for the better. America’s economic turmoil has been felt deeply in New York State. Entrepreneurs most often call for deregulation, citing that decreased laws and streamlined businesses will turn NY’s economy around. However, most would agree that employees need protection as well, and the WTPA’s goal is to provide that.
As the Wage Theft Protection Act forces your employers into documenting information relating to your wages, you may become aware that your employer has not been paying you properly or depriving you of certain rights relating to your pay. If you are involved in a wage dispute in New York, then you may benefit by speaking to an employment lawyer. An expert employment attorney can help you understand the complexities of New York workplace law as it relates to you and will vigorously fight for your right to fair pay. Do not let yourself be victimized. Call the law offices of Valli Kane & Vagnini. LLP now at (866) 441-2873 and get one of NY’s most experienced and accomplished employment attorneys on your side.
When employers shut you out because you exceed some arbitrary age limit, this can be exceedingly frustrating. Not only is the employer perpetrating an obvious injustice, in many cases, it may be clear that you are best candidate for the position. There are laws prohibiting many types of discrimination. U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces these laws. It behooves an employer to know the relevant laws and regulations. Age is one of the areas of discrimination covered by laws.
Employers are not to treat job applicants or existing employees less favorably because of their age. Current law, covered by Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), applies to employees and job candidates equally. The law applies to people age forty and over. Employers can favor an older employee over a younger employee but not the other way around. The law applies even if both employees are over forty. In other words you cannot hire a 45 year old worker over a 55 year old employee due to age.
Work Contexts and Age Discrimination
The law covers discrimination in many aspects including hiring, termination, pay level and pay raises, work assignments, promotions, layoffs, benefits, training and general working conditions.
Harassment and Age Discrimination
Law forbids harassment due to age. Examples of such harassment could include offensive remarks about a workers age. Harassment is not everyday good-humored banter or an isolated remark. However, if the banter and remarks become so severe and frequent that it creates a work environment that is hostile or offensive, that is harassment and prohibited by law. If the adverse treatment due to age results in negative employment decisions, such as termination, that is considered harassment and prohibited by law. It will be considered harassment if it is the victim’s manager or supervisor, a coworker or even someone who is not an employee such as client or vendor.
Policies, Practices and Age Discrimination
Policies and practices implemented by an employer need to be applied to everyone without regard to age. When applied, policies and practices can be illegal if they can be shown to have harmed or impacted negatively employees forty year old or older due to their age. Areas commonly effected include:
- Training and apprenticeship programs.
- Want ads and job notices.
- Employment inquiries.
- Benefits and retirement policies.
Any employer with more than twenty employees is subject to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. It also applies to all government agencies, federal, state and local.
As most lawyers know, civil rights cases are not where the real money is in the legal profession. But one Long Island law firm has barreled into discrimination cases in the South in the past few years, citing a passion for such work.
“We do the old-fashioned civil rights work,” saidJames Vagnini, one of the three partners at Garden City-based Valli Kane & Vagnini. “If I didn’t make a nickel, I’d be just as happy. I’ve learned a lot. I wanted to do law in a way that I could sleep at night.”
The firm is making money, the partners say. But the cases have taken them into some parts of the Lone Star State where media reports indicate race relations have reached a low point in recent years.
The firm was recently in Paris, Texas, where the town’s largest employer is pipe-manufacturer Turner Industries. Black employees have said that hangman’s nooses, Confederate flags and racist graffiti have appeared at the workplace.
Last week, Valli Kane obtained from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission a “reasonable cause” letter, saying the federal agency believes discrimination has occurred at Turner and asking the company and its black employees to sit down and discuss the matter.
In response, Turner said it has formed an employee task force “to assist in promoting and maintaining a workplace that is free of harassment or discrimination.” Turner said it has “zero tolerance” for any discrimination in the workplace.
In 2008, Valli Kane took another case to the EEOC, this one in Dallas involving Allied Aviation Services Inc., which agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle a harassment lawsuit filed on behalf of black and Hispanic workers.
The law firm was formed about two years ago. The three met when they worked together at Leeds, Morelli & Brown, a law firm in Carle Place.
Previously, Vagnini had worked for the New York City Human Rights Commission while a law student at Hofstra University in Hempstead. Robert Valli Jr. had been a Queens assistant district attorney, and Sara Kane was an assistant attorney at the New York City Corporation Counsel.
The firm also handles criminal and real estate cases, but Vagnini said more than 75 percent of its work is civil rights or discrimination cases.
“We have a passion for this,” Kane said.