Wages, Compensation and Benefits

Chances are you have no written or oral contract with your employer. That does not mean that you employer has complete discretion as to what pay or benefits that must be given to employees. The free market place is regulated in this area, and you have rights to a certain level of wages and benefits under Federal and New York State Law.

The grandparent of these Federal Laws in this area is the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, signed into law in 1938 during the Great Depression. This law limited the downward spiral of wages, by setting minimum wages and overtime compensation. And it does so today. New York State has had its own wage and hour laws since 1936, which is now contained in the New York Labor Law. The New York Labor law affords greater protections that the Fair Labor Standards Act, including a higher minimum wage rate. It also has a longer statute of limitations - you preserve your wage claims for six years, rather than the three years under the Federal Law.

The Family Medical Leave Act is a Federal law, which guarantees that you have protection for medical conditions in certain circumstances. If you have a serious medical condition, your employer has 50 or more employees and you have worked for your employer for a year or more (and have worked at least 1250 hours in that period), than you have a right to take up to 12 weeks off, during an annual period, for a serious medical condition. In addition, if your parent, spouse or child has a serious medical condition, you can take time off to care for them for the same amount of time. Plus, you can take time off in connection with pregnancy or the adoption of a child. The leave can be taken in one block, or, if you have an ongoing chronic condition, in smaller increments as medically required, as long as the total time off does not exceed 12 week. Many employees think that funeral leave is covered, when a family member dies. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) covers medical benefits and pensions. Your employer does not have to establish a medical benefit plan (although this will change when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act commonly called Obamacare kicks in during 2014) or a pension plan. That is up to them. However, if your employer has a covered health or pension plan, and does not include you in, ERISA insures that you are treated fairly, the same as other similarly situated employees. Nor can your employer fire you when you are on threshold of vesting in medical or pension benefits for the purpose of depriving you of those benefits, or retaliate against you for complaining that you are not receiving medical or pension benefits to which you are entitled. In addition, some employers have private long term disability plans in the event that you suffer from a long term disability which prevents you from working in any capacity.

Contact us online or call us at (212) 949-1001 so that we can review if your New York City employer has deprived you of wages and benefits to which you are entitled under law.