The U.S. Department of Labor has established minimum wage and overtime laws throughout the nation. In New York, the applicable state agency sets higher standards of pay than the federal laws. For the most part, investigations and enforcement actions can only take place if you file a complaint. For this reason, some employers feel free to violate wage and hour laws because they assume that employees either will not know their rights or worry about losing their jobs if they make complaints.
Federal wage and hour laws
The Fair Labor Standards Act currently sets the minimum wage at $7.25 per hour. After working 40 hours a week, a worker becomes eligible for overtime pay. However, as a worker in New York, you are automatically entitled to the higher wages required by state law.
An employer who tells you that you can be paid the lower federal minimum wage is either mistaken or purposefully deceptive. Your unpaid wages or benefits likely total thousands in lost income, and you have the right to demand the legal minimum of compensation.
State enforcement actions
The state has the power to investigate complaints and collect funds from employers that violated the law. The state can also pursue compensation for other considerations that you were granted within an employment agreement, such as:
- Unpaid vacation or holiday pay
- Unpaid sick pay
- Unpaid expenses
Learn your employment status
To understand your rights fully, you need to know if you were correctly categorized as exempt or non-exempt or as a contract worker. Your status determines the precise wage and hour laws applicable to your situation.