Employment Law | Long Island Overtime Lawyer | Suffolk County Overtime Violations | New York Labor Law Violations | New York Overtime Violations
If you work for a company that does not pay you for:
- all time worked,
- company gear/uniforms/equipment,
- activities performed before and after shifts such as logging on to computers and programs, preparing tools and equipment, and dressing in protective gear,
- Overtime rates (time and a half) for hours worked in excess of 40 per workweek, or
- Minimum wage.
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Labor: State and Federal Law
Employees subject to the federal wage and hour law and some state laws are entitled to receive one and a half (1 ½) times their regular hourly rate for work performed in excess of forty hours per week.
Generally, the law requires that workers be paid a different amount for work that is in excess of a 40 hour work week. Generally, all time worked must be counted in calculating overtime including, but not limited to, all work activities and activities before and after a shift which are integral and indispensable to the primary work activities. Therefore, activities before assigned shifts, such as logging on to computer systems and programs or dressing in required clothing or protective gear are counted in determining whether the employee is entitled to overtime wages. Policies, handbooks, and employment contracts to the contrary may be ineffective.
Employers must pay for the work performed by their employees. Employers may not avoid paying employees for any work performed “off-the-clock.” Worked performed off-the-clock may include tasks performed before or after assigned work-shifts which are integral and indispensable to the primary work activities such as “logging on” and “logging off” from computer systems and programs, dressing in required clothing or protective gear, or driving to and from the bank to make deposits on behalf on the employer.
Employers must give employees a meal break in certain circumstances (see New York Labor Law Section 162). Whether an employer must pay for unused time depends upon the terms of the vacation and/or resignation policy. New York courts have held that an agreement to give benefits or wage supplements, such as vacation, can specify that employees lose accrued benefits under certain conditions. [See Glenville Gage Company, Inc. v. Industrial Board of Appeals of the State of New York, Department of Labor, 70 AD2d 283 (3d Dept 1979) affd, 52 NY2d 777 (1980).] To be valid, the employer must have told employees, in writing, of the conditions that nullify the benefit.
Under certain circumstances, an employer’s failure to reimburse job expenses may result in a violation of federal and state minimum wage laws. Expenses paid by employees for the primary benefit of the employer are included in determining payment of minimum wage. For example, if an employer pays minimum wage, that employer cannot require its employees to purchase their own uniforms because the net effect is payment of less than minimum wage. Similar minimum wage violations may occur when employees are asked to pay for their own vehicle expenses when they use their personal vehicles for work.
New York State law and Discrimination
New York State is an "employment-at-will," state. If there is no contract to restrict firing (like a collective bargaining agreement) an employer has the right to discharge an employee at any time for any reason. This also protects the employee's right to resign. An employer may fire an employee for "no reason." An employer may also fire an employee for a reason that might seem arbitrary and unfair. The employee is equally free to quit at any time without needing to explain or defend that decision.
There are a few exceptions to "employment-at-will." The most significant of these are laws, enforced by the New York State Division of Human Rights, which prohibit discrimination based on: