Most employers are bound by both the federal and state wage-and-hour laws and must comply with both laws. Where there is a difference between state law and federal law, the law more beneficial to the worker governs. As a result, an employer subject to both federal and state wage and hour laws may not disregard state law merely because its wage and hour policies are exempt from, or in compliance with, federal law. The Law Offices of David S. Rich, LLC is skilled in counseling management on many types of labor and employment matters, including overtime, NY minimum wage, and other wage and hour matters.
It can be difficult to keep track of NY minimum wage laws and regulations. However, wages and compensation are an increasingly high-profile issue for employers. Wage and hour violations can lead to litigation, unnecessary expenses, and eroded employee relations. New York employers need both a comprehensive minimum wage and overtime compliance system and a skilled wage and hour lawyer to help defend against wage and hour claims.
Minimum wage and overtime claims are covered by federal, state, and municipal laws. Typically, whichever law provides workers with the greatest benefit or protection will apply. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets minimum federal standards for minimum wages, overtime, recordkeeping, and child labor. While many of FLSA’s provisions are less generous than NY state law, other provisions may still apply. In NY minimum wage cases, an experienced lawyer can help you navigate the array of laws that apply in New York State and its municipalities.
Federal and State Overtime Rules
Not all New York workers are eligible for overtime. Under federal and NY law, you do not have to pay overtime to:
- Administrative employees,
- Camp counselors,
- Executive employees,
- Farm workers,
- Fraternity, sorority, and faculty association employees,
- Members of religious orders,
- Most volunteers, interns, and apprentices,
- Outside salespersons,
- Part-time babysitters,
- Professional employees,
- Some employees of religious and charitable organizations, and
- Taxicab drivers.
For administrative, executive, and professional employees, salary thresholds also apply. If you pay an employee less than the threshold, he or she may still be eligible for overtime.
The Department of Labor published a series of new overtime rules that significantly increased the federal salary thresholds for administrative, executive, and professional employees. These rules were supposed to take effect on December 1, 2016. However, a group of states and business groups challenged their legality. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas then issued a preliminary injunction — halting the implementation of the rules. It is unclear whether the 2016 rules will ever take effect, although the DOL has appealed the injunction. We are monitoring this case and will keep our clients updated.
However, the New York State Department of Labor also amended the state’s overtime rules in 2016, increasing the salary thresholds for exempt employees. While more modest than the federal rules, a large number of workers in NY became eligible for overtime on December 31, 2016. If you need help understanding the current overtime requirements, contact a skilled New York wage and hour lawyer immediately.
New York Minimum Wage Laws
In New York, the minimum wage rates vary, depending on where you do business. As of 12/31/2016, the minimum wages are:
- New York City:
- $11.00 per hour for organizations with 11 or more employees,
- $10.50 per hour for organizations with 10 or fewer employees, and
- Fast food workers: $12.00 per hour,
- If you do business with NYC, you may have to comply with the City’s Living Wage Law, which imposes an even higher minimum wage.
- Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties: $10.00 per hour, and
- Other areas of New York: $9.70 per hour.
In NYC, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties, the minimum wage will incrementally increase to $15.00 per hour over the next few years. Different (and complicated rules) apply to tip credit and restaurant workers.
Additionally, New York law imposes strict limitations on the type of payroll deductions an employer may make. You typically can only deduct for:
- Insurance premiums and other authorized payments that benefit the employee, and
- Social Security and income taxes.
You cannot make deductions for breakages, tardiness, or other employment-related losses.
Types of NY Minimum Wage Disputes
Minimum wage and overtime violations can take many forms. Unfortunately, many employers do not understand the intricacies of the NY minimum wage system and make costly mistakes. These may include:
- Commission disputes,
- Equal Pay Act violations,
- Improper classification of workers as exempt employees,
- Improper classification of workers as independent contractors,
- Incorrect payroll deductions,
- Prevailing wage rates for trade workers,
- Tip theft, and
- Violations of hourly pay rates.
Most violations are unintentional and could have been avoided with help from a skilled NY minimum wage lawyer. Additionally, you may have defenses to a minimum wage violation claim. Again, an experienced lawyer can evaluate the facts of your case in detail and create a compelling defense strategy.
Minimum Wage and Overtime Compliance
A well-crafted compensation and benefits structure helps frame all of your employee relationships. When clearly stated and compliant with the law, pay rates and structures build confidence and strengthen employee relationships. However, even minor mistakes can lead to disputes, litigation, and unnecessary expenses.
New York’s minimum wage system is becoming increasingly complicated– particularly in NYC and the surrounding counties. There are also industry-specific rules that must be followed. An experienced wage and hour lawyer can evaluate your current compensation structures and policies and help you avoid NY minimum wage violations. We can help you assess your compensation structures and exempt/nonexempt classifications, ensuring that your organization is in compliance with the law.
FINRA Arbitration and Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolution is an important tool in NY minimum wage disputes. With the help of a mediator, the employer and employee may be able to resolve their disagreement in a confidential and cost-effective manner. And, in some cases, wage and hour disputes are arbitrated, rather than litigated. In New York, many of these arbitrations are handled by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). We have extensive experience with FINRA arbitrations involving employment, commission, and unpaid bonus disputes.
Wage and Hour Litigation
While litigation should always be the last resort, it is sometimes unavoidable. When you are facing a NY minimum wage lawsuit, you need a skilled employment lawyer at your side. Wage and hour cases are very technical. We are prepared to guide you through the process and present the strongest possible defenses.
Which Employees Must My Company Pay Overtime Pay Under Federal Law?
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219 (the “FLSA”), and its implementing regulations, 29 C.F.R. §§ 510 et seq., require that most employees in the United States be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked and overtime pay at 1½ times the regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.
However, the FLSA sets forth exemptions from both minimum wage and overtime pay for employees employed as bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees. FLSA § 13(a)(1), 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1). The FLSA also exempts certain computer employees. FLSA § 13(a)(1), 13(a)(17), 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1), 213(a)(17). In general, to qualify for exemption, workers must satisfy certain tests concerning their job duties and be paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week. Job titles do not decide exempt status. For an exemption to apply, a worker’s specific job responsibilities and salary must satisfy all the requisites of the U.S. Department of Labor’s regulations.
Which Employees Must My Company Pay Overtime Pay In New York State?
The New York State Minimum Wage Act, N.Y. Labor Law § 650 et seq., requires that employees in New York be paid at least the New York minimum wage which, depending on the county and the size of the employer, ranges from $9.70 per hour to $11.00 per hour — for all hours worked. Covered employees who work overtime must be paid at a rate that is 1½ times their regular, “straight-time” hourly rate of pay.
For non-residential employees in New York, this overtime rate applies to all time in excess of 40 hours in a payroll week.
For residential employees (that is, live-in workers), this overtime rate applies to all time in excess of 44 hours in a payroll week.
As noted above, the FLSA sets forth exemptions from overtime pay for certain categories of employees. New York follows these exemptions, but requires that these categories of employees be paid at least 1½ times the New York minimum wage for their overtime hours.
Which Employees Must My Company Pay Overtime Pay In New Jersey?
Article I, paragraph 23 of the New Jersey Constitution, the New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law, N.J.S.A. §§ 34:11-56a – 34:11-56a30, and the State Wage and Hour Law’s implementing regulations, N.J.A.C. §§ 12:56 et seq., require that employees in New Jersey be paid at least the New Jersey minimum wage of $8.38 per hour for all hours worked and overtime pay at 1½ the employee’s “regular hourly wage” for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.
Employees exempt from overtime under New Jersey law include any person employed in a bona fide executive, administrative or professional capacity. Other exempt employees in New Jersey are outside salespeople, farm laborers, hotel employees, employees of common carriers of passengers by motor bus, limousine drivers who are employed by an employer engaged in the business of operating limousines, and employees engaged in work relating to raising or care of livestock.
In New Jersey, to qualify for the executive, administrative, or professional employee exemption, an employee must receive compensation on a salary or fee basis at a rate of not less than $455 per week.
Contact a NY Minimum Wage Lawyer
David S. Rich is an employment lawyer with over 20 years of experience handling NY minimum wage matters. For a consultation, contact the Law Offices of David S. Rich, LLC.
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