Minimum Wage

Your employer gives you a lump sum payment, maybe in cash. Remember that you must be paid for all the time that you work, and not less than the minimum wage for each hour. Your employer cannot make a “deal” with you to pay you a lump sum in cash which is less than the minimum wage for each hour that you work. And it does not make a difference if you are an undocumented worker. 

There are now more than 47 million people in the United States who work and are poor. The minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living. Although the nominal amount of the minimum wage has increased over the years, since 1970 the real spending value of the minimum wage has actually decreased by 30%. Worker productivity has statistically increased and if the minimum wage reflected the increased worker productivity which has benefited employers, the minimum wage would be more in the neighborhood of $20 per hour. In order to support yourself, or support yourself and a family, you would have to make considerably more than the legal minimum to get out of poverty. If rational minds prevail, there is no reason why the minimum wage should not be raised in the future so that the minimum wage will really be a wage that you can live on in New York State.

The minimum wage is good economic policy. Economic studies have shown that reasonable levels of minimum wage do not decrease the levels of employment; that is, employers are not discouraged from hiring and using workers because they have to pay a living wage. Also, assuring that employees have a minimum wage puts money in workers’ pockets, which is recycled into the economy when the worker spends money, resulting in a more robust economy and prosperous nation. The minimum wage should be raised from its current rate, as it has not kept pace with rising prices in the economy. Before the minimum wage laws were enacted, Henry Ford raised his workers hourly pay because he wanted them to be able to purchase his cars, which improved the finances of his company. This logic still applies.

Your employer cannot make you kickback minimum wages by unlawful deductions from your pay, such as by penalizing you for cash shortages, or for repayments of loans that your employer has made to you. Minimum wage payments must be made each week on a regular pay day. Your employer cannot withhold these payments, and give a “bonus” at irregular intervals. Your hourly wage is determined by taking a single work week, and dividing the total compensation you receive by the number of hours that you worked.

A case under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Federal wage law, can reach back three years, and you would usually be entitled to liquidated double damages; that is, you would multiply each dollar that you are owed by a factor of two. Employers are subject to the Federal Law if they are engaged in interstate commerce. Many, but not all employers, are deemed to be so engaged. A case under the New York Labor Law, the New York State wage law, can reach back six years. Starting on April 12, 2011, employers who do not pay the minimum wage are liable, under the New York Labor Law, for liquidated double damages. They would also be liable for interest, at statutory rates, for wages that were not fully and timely paid.

If you point out to your employer that you are not being the minimum wage, your employer subject you to retaliation in New York State or New York City because you complain that you are not being paid the minimum wage.

Contact us online or call us at (212) 949-1001 if you think that your employer's harmful actions stem from not paying you the minimum wage, and we will use our more than 25 years of experience to help you resolve the matter by negotiation or by going to court in the State of New York or New York City.

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