You may not realize it, but when you go to work each day, whether you work at a job site, an office, or remotely from your house- you have rights. While your employer can rightly give you tasks and orders, there are some limits they cannot cross.
Usually, employment-related issues are at a peak during the Christmas holiday season, wage disputes being the primary reason. While most employees think they cannot do anything about this harassment from the employer, the law says they can take legal action.
If your employer has denied offering you the employment benefits they promised you in the contract, or you deserve them, an experienced New York employment lawyer can help.
This article will explain why the new year is the right time to seek justice and get all the benefits you deserve.
Why You Might Need an Employment Lawyer During the New Year?
There can be several reasons why you need to contact an employment lawyer in New York post the Christmas season. Below we have compiled such issues, employees usually contact lawyers for:
Unexplained Layoffs or Wrongful Termination
New York is an at-will state, and no specific laws govern terminations. However, wrongful termination is unethical, and employees can take legal action against it.
Unexplained layoff occurs when an employer fires/terminates or dismisses an employee without providing any valid grounds for removal. It is indispensable for the employer to furnish valid and strong reasons for the dismissal of an employee, or else the layoff can qualify as wrongful termination.
Reasons Behind Wrongful Termination
Has your employer terminated your services without specifying any reason? These could be the grounds behind the course of action:
It has been seen that employees are laid off when they ask for the added employment benefits they deserve. For example, some employers mention that the employees will get paid leave during the holiday season, say Christmas.
However, upon asking for a leave or pay off for the leave, some employers fire their employees, which is against the law.
Retaliation also comes in when the workers file a charge or complaint against the employer for conducting any type of unethical or illegal behavior.
One of the most widely known forms of wrongful layoff is terminating an employee based on protected attributes such as race, color, sex, and more. Federal and state laws protect employees from being penalized or fired for certain discriminatory reasons.
Workers that have been laid off due to their protected attributes can file a charge of discrimination with the US. EEOC or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or any local anti-discrimination agency.
Constructive termination is when an employer manipulates an environment to influence a worker to quit. It can also include modifying the terms and conditions of employment without notice. A common example of constructive dismissal could be a pay cut or demotion without a valid reason.
For example, if an employer cuts your pay for a particular day, such as a public holiday, even though you appeared at work, it can qualify as constructive dismissal.
What are Your Options If You Have Been Fired or Laid Off?
Speak to the HR
You should speak to HR first to understand the reason behind your layoff. Sometimes, employers have valid reasons but fail to explain them to the employee in their termination letter.
Speak to a Lawyer
You can contact a New York employment lawyer to review your employment contract and help you determine the benefits you are entitled to. For example, some employers keep offering health insurance even after terminating a worker. The lawyer will also tell you if the termination was legal or not.
File a Charge
If the termination is unethical, you can file a charge against the employer with the help of an employment lawyer.
You’ve Not Been Paid Overtime Pay
If your employer is not paying you overtime, you could easily miss out on a substantial amount of money. As per the U.S. Department of Labor or DOL, approximately 72% of employers throughout the country are not in compliance with FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act which regulates overtime pay.
How do Employers Avoid Paying Overtime to the Workers?
There are a variety of ways that employers use to avoid paying overtime to their workforce. These ways include, but are not limited to:
- Getting the employees to perform their duties off the clock, for which they receive no benefits such as cash compensation.
- Not paying the employees for required training sessions or meetings.
- Asking the employees to work before they are clocked in or after they are clocked out.
- Classifying workers as exempt employees or independent contractors, as they are not entitled to receive overtime pay.
Why Do Employers Avoid Paying Overtime?
There are just as many reasons employers fail to pay their workers overtime as there are ways to avoid paying them. These include:
- Employers think they can easily get away with it because most workers fear losing their job.
- They claim that the business has financial restrictions to offer overtime wages.
- They are unaware that they need to pay over time.
What Are Your Options If You Are Not Being Paid Overtime?
If you believe your employer has not paid you the workers overtime pay you are entitled to receive, your first step should be to discuss it with the employer. If the issue remains unsolved, you have the following options:
File a Complaint with DOL
You can file a complaint against the employer with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. These agencies have the authority to investigate employment-related claims and can order your employer to pay the money they owe to you.
Hire an Attorney
With the help of an employment attorney, you can file a civil lawsuit against the employer. The Lawyers at Levine & Blit ensure that all workers receive overtime pay based on their contracts and federal law. This includes making sure that the workers are being paid the minimum wage and being able to seek damages from the employer.
👉 More: NY State Overtime Laws
You Have Been Offered a Severance Pay
Severance pay is the compensation or benefits the employer offers to an employee after their employment with the organization is over. Typically, severance is offered after the employer terminates the worker.
Employers are not legally obliged to offer severance in a state like New York. However, most of them offer it to prevent any legal actions.
Most employees don’t know what to do after they are offered severance pay. Workers even think they have no other option but to accept the package.
Reasons Why You Should Not Accept the Severance Package Right Away
The employers want you to accept the severance package, and it may seem like a lucrative deal after your employment has been terminated.
Below are some reasons why accepting the severance right away is not the best decision:
The Employer Wants You to Agree at the Lowest Ball
Every employer wants their employees to settle at a lowball. Accepting and signing the severance package immediately may prevent you from receiving the benefits you are entitled to.
The Package Might Not be As Per the Contract
Most employers mention the terms related to severance packages to attract employees. However, these terms aren’t considered when offering severance packages when the employees leave. You need to ensure that the severance package contains all benefits the client promised you.
The Severance May Affect Your Future Employability
Some employers add a clause in the severance that the terminated employee cannot join their competitor. Accepting the severance without consulting a lawyer can make you adhere to the employer’s policies, which may affect your future employability.
What Are Your Options If You Are Offered a Severance Package?
Even if the employer terminated your employment the right way, you still have a few options available when accepting the severance.
Negotiate with the Employer
You can negotiate with the employer to get all the unemployment benefits included in your severance package. Ensure the benefits are similar to what was promised in the employment contract.
Hire an Attorney
By hiring an employment attorney, you can get the severance package reviewed. Sometimes, these packages contain clauses that can affect your future employability. The attorney will work with the employer to ensure the severance does not affect you in any way.
Your Employer has Not Paid the Wages You Are Owed
As per state and federal law, employers must pay their employees proper wages as described in their contracts. However, the wage should not be less than the federal minimum wage set by the state.
Usually, employees experience issues with their employers over wages, and the chances of it happening increase during the holiday season.
Wage-related Disputes You May have with the Employer
There are different types of wage-related issues employees experience with their employers. While each issue is different, the approach for each issue is almost the same. The common wage-related disputes include:
If the employer fails to compensate the employee for the time they have dedicated to work, it qualifies as an unethical practice and can be considered as one of wage and hour violations. As per New York law, every employer must pay wages to their workers for the clocked hours.
Minimum Wage Disputes
State minimum wage laws regulate the wages offered to employees. There is an increase in the wage from time to tie, and all employers must adhere to this increment. As per the Minimum Wage Act, all employers operating in New York state must pay a wage equal to at least $14.20 an hour beginning December 31, 2022.
Some employers do not adhere to the minimum wage increase, which causes minimum wage violations between the workers and the employers.
What Are Your Options If You Have a Wage Dispute with the Employer?
For wage-related disputes with the employer, you have the following options:
File a Charge Against the Employer
You can file a complaint against the employer with agencies like Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC to recover damages through a wage and hour claim.
Hire an Attorney and Negotiate with the Employer
With the help of an employment attorney, you can negotiate with your employer over the wage dispute. Also, you can file wage and hour lawsuits against the employer. The attorney will help you claim all the wages and employment benefits you deserve.
👉 More: Time Off Pay Over the Holidays
Employment and Labor Laws in New York You Should Know About
Every employee in New York, irrespective of their designation, should know about employment and labor laws. Here is a brief of these important laws that protect you from wage-related issues:
New York Minimum Wage
The New York Minimum Wage law makes it mandatory for employers to adhere to the minimum wage requirements. All employers must meet the minimum wage as proposed by the state’s authority.
Wage Theft Protection Act
As per this law, employers operating in New York must remember to have the newly-hired workers sign a Notice of Pay Rate at the time of onboarding them. The act prevents wage thefts and requires employees to pay minimum wage and thus protecting the employee’s rights.
New York Final Pay
This law has some straightforward rules and requires employers to release the final paycheck of the employees who quit or are involuntarily terminated by the next regular payday.
It is important to note that the workers in question have the right to request that the final payment be mailed in such instances. However, the payment of any unused employment benefits upon termination may vary.
New York Overtime Law
As per the New York Overtime Law, employers must pay workers 1.5 times their regular pay rate for all work hours exceeding 40 hours a week. If an employee has a pay difference at times, they must use the average regular rate of pay.
And there are several other state as well as federal laws such as fair labor standards act that protect the employee’s rights from being violated by employers. Remembering all these laws can be difficult, so hiring an employment lawyer makes things easier.
Levine and Blit is a team of professional employment lawyers in New York that can help you with any wage-related dispute. Whether you want to file a charge against the employer to negotiate with them, our lawyers will assist you with all our legal expertise. Call us at 866-351-0116 for a free case evaluation.
Why Hiring a Wage Dispute Lawyer is Essential
Dealing with your employer over a wage-related dispute be challenging because it requires knowledge of all wage and labor laws. Here are some reasons why having a wage dispute lawyer by your side is indispensable.
They Tell You If There’s a Case
The wage and hour laws are complicated, and it’s difficult to tell if there’s a case against your employer. An attorney will tell you about the circumstances and the possibility of standing a case.
They Help You Gather Evidence
Evidence is everything, especially in wage-related cases. The lawyers tell you the evidence you need to collect, such as pay slips, employment contracts, etc.
They Help you File a Complaint
You must file a charge with the right agency to get your employer’s employment benefits. Wage dispute lawyers know which agency to contact and how to file a successful complaint.
They Negotiate with the Employer on Your Behalf
Negotiation is essential to a wage dispute, and a lawyer can help you with that. The attorneys can negotiate on your behalf with the employer to claim all the benefits you deserve.
Contact Levine and Blit for all Wage-related Disputes
Dealing with wage-related disputes can be traumatic for employees, and an unexplained layoff can worsen it. If you are suffering because your employer due to not receiving any employment benefits such as wages, overtime, and more, you should take action against it.
Levine and Blit are expert employment dispute lawyers in New York that can assist you with all wage-related issues. Whether you are classified as an independent contractor or an employee, we can guide you through the process of filing a charge, negotiating for your rights, and getting back what you deserve.