Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, announced in December 2013 that an agreement has been reached to reinstate 25 employees before the end of the holiday season. The employment of the workers ended suddenly, earlier in the month, following wage dispute with store management.
“Because of this agreement, 25 workers will be back to work in time for the holidays,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.
“New York’s labor laws exist to ensure the protection and fair treatment of employees in the workplace. My office will take swift action where there is any indication that an employer may have retaliated against workers for complaining about illegal labor conditions.”
The dispute in this case focused on employees’ complaints (which they shared with management) that they were being paid a “tipped” wage even though they were spending excessive time performing untipped kitchen work. Under New York law, employees who regularly receive tips may be paid a lower hourly wage and the employer may claim a “tip credit,” providing certain circumstances are met.
Currently, the tip credit for delivery workers is $1.60 per hour, so they must be paid at least $5.65 per hour in wages. However, in order to ensure that the lower wage applies only to those who genuinely have the opportunity to receive tips, state and federal laws limit the amount of time a lower-paid, tipped employee may perform untipped work, such as cleaning or kitchen work. Furthermore, New York law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who have made good-faith complaints to their employer or to government agencies regarding violations of New York labor law.
The Attorney General’s signed agreement addresses only the reinstatement of the 25 employees and does not resolve the ongoing investigation into other potential labor law violations. If you believe that your employer is guilty of minimum wage violations, or if you are owed overtime pay, it is important that you seek the representation of a skilled employment attorney.