wage theft prevention act

Paid off the books? Your employers are (probably) crooks.

If you are being paid off the books, in cash or via personal check, your employer may be breaking the law. And you might be entitled to compensation.

Are you being paid off the books?  Chances are, your employer is breaking New York wage and hour law.  Just by failing to provide you with notifications regarding your wages and legally compliant pay stubs, your employer is breaking the law. 

If you are being paid off the books, you might be entitled to recover as much as $10,000 or more.

New York Labor Law requires employers to provide all employees with a wage notice when they start, spelling out the terms of their compensation.  The penalty for failure to do so can be as high as $5,000. 

New York Labor Law also requires employers to provide all employees with wage statements when they are paid, spelling out their rate of pay, deductions, and other wage-related matters.  The penalty for failure to do so can also be as high as $5,000.

The attorneys at Granovsky & Sundaresh can help you recoup this penalty - and maybe more.  We are experienced and aggressive wage and hour lawyers who fight to make our clients whole.  Not only will we examine whether we can recover these penalties for you, but we will also try to find other avenues to increase your recovery such as unpaid overtime, minimum wage or wrongful termination issues.

Call now. 646-524-6001. We have attorneys standing by to take your call. Or you can e-mail us - all e-mails receive a response within 24 hours.

I am being forced to work off the clock. What should I do?

In general, an employee’s “hours worked” include all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer's premises or at any other prescribed place of work. All employees must be paid for all time worked. So if your employer is forcing you to work off the clock, you may be entitled to additional compensation (even if you are paid a salary).

Common examples of work off the clock:

  • Your employer asks to you set up, open a store or facility prior to clocking in.
  • Your employer makes you clock out for a meal break, but nonetheless makes you work during that period.
  • Your employer automatically deducts some period of time from your hours (usually for an assumed “break”), but does not compensate you for work you performed during that time.
  • Your employer asks you to clock out and then, after you are clocked out, perform additional work (e.g. cleaning up, shutting down, etc.).

Am I entitled to additional compensation:

Probably. This comes down to a determination of whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt. For further information that should help you determine whether or not you are exempt, these links may be helpful:

What to do if you are being forced to work off the clock:

  • Collect the facts – you need to get a sense of how much you are working off the clock, whether any additional employees are also working off the clock. Get any documents you have about off the clock work together.
  • Contact an employment lawyer – get a better understanding of your rights. We offer a free initial consultation. In most situations involving work off the clock we do not collect a fee unless we get recovery for our client.  Contact us today for a free consultation.

Wage Theft Prevention Act Annual Notice Requirement

On December 29, 2014 Governor Cuomo signed a bill that repealed the Wage Theft Prevention Act annual notice requirement. Essentially, under the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA), employers were required to notify and receive written acknowledgement from every worker about their rate of pay, allowances, pay day, etc. before February 1 of each year -- this was the Wage Theft Prevention Act Annual Notice Requirement. Although the Wage Theft Prevention Act Annual Notice Requirement will no longer be effective as of 2015, employers are still required to provide written notice of wage rates to each new hire at the time of hire. Specially, the written notice must include:

  • Rate or rates of pay, including overtime rate of pay (if it applies)
  • How the employee is paid: by the hour, shift, day, week, commission, etc.
  • Regular payday
  • Official name of the employer and any other names used for business (DBA)
  • Address and phone number of the employer's main office or principal location
  • Allowances taken as part of the minimum wage (tips, meal and lodging deductions)

The repeal of the Wage Theft Prevention Act annual notice requirement is cause for celebration for employers in New York as it eliminates a burdensome administrative requirement!  For more information on the Wage Theft Prevention Act, including the recent amendment, please visit the New York Department of Labor's website.

The Companionship Exemption

Effective January 1, 2015, the Federal Fair Labor Standard Act’s minimum wage and overtime protections will extend to workers who provide essential home care assistance to elderly people and people with illnesses, injuries or disabilities. The revisions to the law narrow the definition of “companionship services” (and therefore limit the use of the companionship exemption) and prohibit third party agencies or home health care companies from claiming the companionship exemption. Under the revised rules, the companionship exemption is limited to an individual, family or household employing a home care aide. In order to legally use the companionship exemption and avoid paying a home care aide overtime, such aide must (1) provide “companionship services” to an elderly person or a person with an illness, injury or disability who needs help in caring for himself (2) for at least 80% of the total hours such aide works per week.

The term “companionship services” is defined as the provision of fellowship and protection. The term “fellowship” means to engage the person in social, physical and mental activities and “protection” means to be present with the person in their home or to accompany the person outside of the home in order to monitor his safety.   The Department of Labor has provided examples of activities that satisfy the meanings of “fellowship” and “protection”, which include conversation, games, crafts, accompanying the person on walks, and going on errands, appointments or social events with the person.

The exemption is available even if the aide provides “care” so long as (1) the care is provided attendant to and in conjunction with the provision of fellowship and protection and (2) if it does not exceed 20% of the total hours worked per week. The exemption will not be available and the employee will be entitled to minimum wage and overtime if the employee spends more than 20% of his time per week providing care. “Care” is defined as assistance with activities of daily living, which include dressing, grooming, feeding, bathing, toileting and transferring and instrumental activities of daily living, which include meal preparation, driving, light housework, managing finances, assisting with taking medications and arranging medical care. The exemption is also not available if the employee provides household work that goes beyond the benefit of the elderly person or person with a disability like doing laundry or preparing meals for other household members.   Lastly, the definition of companionship services does not include the provision of medically related services that would typically be performed by trained personnel and if the employee provides any medically related services he will be entitled to overtime pay.

Can a third party home health care agency use the companionship exemption now? No. Under the revised rules any home care aides hired through a third party agency cannot be exempt from minimum wage and overtime coverage. The exemptions for aides who mainly provide “companionship services” or for live-in domestic service employees (as described below) are limited to the individual, family or household using the services and explicitly do not extend to third party providers. Such providers must pay its home care aides (1) an hourly rate that is at least minimum wage (currently $8/hour in New York) and (2) time and a half ($12/hour) for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week.

Live-In Domestic Service Employees. Live-in domestic service workers who live in the employer’s home permanently or for a period of time and are employed by an individual, family, or household are exempt from overtime pay but they must be paid minimum wage. However, live-in workers who are solely or jointly employed by a third party must be paid at least minimum wage and overtime pay for all hours worked.  But employers of live-in domestic service workers may enter into agreements to exclude certain time from compensable hours worked (such as sleep time, meal time and other periods of time where the employee is completely free of work duties). Such employers must maintain an accurate record of hours worked by live-in domestic service workers but may require the employee to record his or her hours worked and to submit the record to the employer.

Additional Information. The U.S. Department of Labor has created a portal for both employers and employees regarding the law changes summarized in this memo: http://www.dol.gov/whd/homecare/

If you have any questions regarding the companionship exemption and compliance with the new laws, please do not hesitate to contact us.

NY Labor Law Legislation Update

On September 7, 2012, Governor Cuomo signed legislation amending New York Labor Law §193.   The amendment goes into effect on November 6, 2012. Section 193 of the New York Labor Law prohibits employers from making “any deduction from the wages of an employee,” except for (1) deductions required by law or (2) deductions that are expressly authorized by the employee in writing and “are for the benefit of the employee.”  The second exception permits deductions for insurance premiums, pension or health benefits, charitable contributions, and dues for labor organizations, as well as other limited deductions.

The amendment expands the list of categories for which deductions may be taken by employers with an employee’s written consent and allows deductions for overpayments due to clerical or mathematical errors or for repayment of advances on wages or vacations paid to employees.

The permissible deductions under the amendment shall now include the following:

●             prepaid legal plans;

●             purchases made at events sponsored by a charitable organization affiliated with the employer;

●             discounted parking or discounted passes, tokens, fare cards, vouchers, or other items that entitle the employee to use mass transit;

●             fitness center, health club, and/or gym membership dues;

●             cafeteria and vending machine purchases made at the employer’s place of business, and purchases made at gift shops operated by the employer (if the employer is a  hospital, college, or university);

●             pharmacy purchases made at the employer’s place of business;

●             tuition, room, board, and fees for pre-school, nursery, primary, secondary, and/or post-secondary educational institutions;

●             day care, before-school and after-school care expenses;

●             payments for housing provided at no more than market rates by non-profit hospitals or affiliates thereof; and

●             similar payments for the benefit of the employee.

Most significantly, the amendment allows employers to make wage deductions to recover “an overpayment of wages where such overpayment is due to a mathematical or other clerical error by the employer” and “repayment of advances of salary or wages made by the employer to the employee.”

Under the amended law, deductions still are permitted only if expressly authorized in writing, signed by the employee and if the deductions are, generally, for the benefit of the employee.  The amendment requires that, before any deduction is made, the employee must receive “written notice of all terms and conditions of the payment and/or its benefits and the details of the manner in which deductions will be made.”