Wage and Hour Law Your New York Business Needs to Know About

New York wage and hour law concept

Employers are subject to various rules that govern their relationship with their employees. Both federal and state laws affect pay, overtime, and other matters. Whether you’re part of a new or established employer, an experienced New York business lawyer can help ensure compliance with wage and hour law.

Rosenbaum & Taylor is your trusted legal counsel. We can also defend your company if an employment lawsuit is filed or a government investigation is commenced against you.

Call Rosenbaum & Taylor today at 914-326-2660.

What Types of Wage and Hour Cases Do We Help With?

You may need legal representation for a lawsuit that has already been filed against your business. Or you may wish to have an attorney review your ongoing practices to identify any wage and hour violations. Either way, our New York business lawyers can assist with the following issues, among others.

Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage currently sits at $7.25/hour. New York, like many states, has adopted its own, higher rates that apply to most hourly workers. Those rates, as of January 1, 2024, are:

  • $16.00 per hour in New York City and Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties.
  • From $14.20 to $15.00 per hour for the rest of the state.
  • Tipped workers (variable by industry) can be paid less than minimum wage, as long as tips make up the difference.

Wherever there are two different minimum wage rates, the higher rate will prevail. This means New York employees are entitled to the New York minimum wage.

Overtime Pay

Employees are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week. The overtime rate is 1.5 times the regular hourly rate, which is why it is also called time and a half pay. There are exemptions but they are rare and strictly applied. Every work week stands alone, so an employer cannot average hours across more than one week to avoid this requirement.

Not Paying for All Time Worked

Employers frequently ask or require employees to perform work tasks before or after clocking in. These “off-the-clock” tasks can add up to substantial time. In general, employers must pay their employees for all time worked. Attempting to request or demand free labor can cause legal problems.

Concept of wage and hour compliance. Miniature working people with piles of coins.

Automatic Meal Breaks

Employers sometimes automatically deduct meal breaks of 30 minutes or more each day from an employee’s hours. The problem is that employees often work during these so-called breaks. If an employee is not fully relieved of work duties (including being on call), it’s not a true break. The employee would therefore have to be paid for that time.

Independent Contractor Misclassification

There’s nothing wrong with companies using independent contractors for tasks outside of their normal scope of business. A firm may contract with an accountant to perform a forensic audit to determine if a partner embezzled money.

This doesn’t make the accountant an employee of the firm; the accountant is an independent contractor. He or she is therefore not an employee and would not be entitled to certain wage and hour protections. But this creates an incentive for employers to improperly classify employees as independent contractors.

Simply labeling a worker as an independent contractor will likely be insufficient to prove someone is not an employee. The IRS and courts use various rules to determine a worker’s status as a contractor or employee. These rules largely concern the extent of control the company exercises over the worker.

Employment Contracts

Many aspects of wage and hour law are controlled by employment contracts. For instance, an employer may choose to offer more beneficial paid time off benefits than what the law requires. If so, the contract can be enforced against the employer.

Topics that may be covered by an employment contract include:

  • Start and end dates of employment
  • Pay rates
  • Employee benefits
  • Pension and retirement plans
  • Promotions and advancements

How Rosenbaum & Taylor Can Help

If your business has been accused of a wage and hour violation, we can review the claims against you. If possible, we may be able to settle the lawsuit or government (e.g. Department of Labor) investigation out of court. If not, we will present the strongest possible case on your behalf to a jury or administrative body.

But we also strive to identify and correct issues before they become lawsuits and investigations. We can examine your existing business operations and determine if there are any violations. Then, we can get to work correcting them.

This is the level of comprehensive legal representation you can expect from our New York business lawyers. Call Rosenbaum & Taylor today at 914-326-2660 or contact us online.

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