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PRACTICE AREAS

Wage & Overtime Violations

Beranbaum Menken LLP fights for workers’ rights to be fully and fairly compensated for their work. We represent workers whose employers have violated federal and/or local laws governing minimum wage, overtime, misclassification, tips, commissions, prevailing wages, and other kinds of compensation.

The lawyers at Beranbaum Menken have recovered millions of dollars in unpaid wages on behalf of New York employees in class action litigations and have also successfully resolved many wage and hour claims for individual employees, both in and out of court.

Beranbaum Menken represents workers with all different kinds of wage and hour claims, including:

  • Employees who have not been paid the minimum wage
  • Employees who have not been paid overtime.
  • Home health attendants who work in the homes of their elderly and/or disabled clients.
  • Tipped employees whose employers have wrongfully credited tips towards the employer’s obligation to pay the minimum wage.
  • Employees who have been misclassified as “exempt” from overtime laws because the employer claims they are administrators, executives or professionals.
  • Employees who have been denied meal and rest breaks.
  • Employees who have performed certain types of work on public works contracts without being paid the prevailing wage.
  • Employees who have suffered unlawful deductions from their pay.
  • Employees who have suffered retaliation at the hands of their employers for complaining about their pay.

If you believe that your employer’s pay practices do not comply with federal or New York law, contact an attorney at Beranbaum Menken for a consultation to discuss your wage and hour claim.

Unlawful Deductions

New York law prohibits employers from taking unlawful deductions from workers’ earned wages. Unlawful deductions include those for lost or damages company property; the cost of uniforms; business losses, register shortages and overhead expenses.

Beranbaum Menken attorneys have successfully represented numerous employees whose employers have made illegal deductions from their wages. We can help you determine whether deductions from your wages were unlawful, and take action on your behalf to recoup your lost wage. Contact Us.

 

Retaliation

State and federal law prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against employees who complain about unlawful conduct in the workplace. Adverse actions can include termination; demotion; black-listing for future employment and undeserved negative employment references and evaluations.

Visit our whistleblowing and retaliation page for more information.

Beranbaum Menken attorneys have successfully represented numerous employees with retaliation claims. If you have suffered an adverse employment action because you complained about workplace conditions, we can help you determine whether your employer’s actions were retaliatory and help you recoup lost back wages and other damages. Contact us.

Meal and Rest Breaks

New York law requires that employers give workers paid meal and rest breaks. Often, employers refuse to give employees the breaks they are entitled to. Sometimes employers deduct pay from workers for these supposed rest breaks, even though the workers aren’t actually being allowed to take breaks at all.

Beranbaum Menken attorneys have successfully represented numerous employees whose employers have denied them the breaks to which they are entitled. We can help you determine whether you have been the victim of wage, and take action on your behalf to help you recoup your lost wages. Contact Us.

Tipped Employees

Tipped employees, such as waitstaff, hotel staff, buspeople and luggage handlers are particularly susceptible to wage abuses.Common illegal practices include:

  • Employers failing to pay tipped employees any wage at all, requiring tipped employees to live only on tips;
  • Failing to the tipped employee minimum wage, and not allowing them to keep their earned tips;
  • Allowing management employees to participate in tip pools, i.e., taking a cut of the tips;
  • Charging waiters and waitresses for walk-outs who do not pay their bill;
  • Failing or refusing to pay overtime when required; and,
  • Altering time cards to inaccurately reflect hours worked.

Beranbaum Menken attorneys have successfully represented tipped employees in numerous individual and class action cases. We can help you determine whether you have been the victim of tip theft, and take action on your behalf to help you recoup your lost wages. Contact us.

Prevailing Wage

Many states, including New York and New Jersey, require that employees of private companies who perform work on public projects be paid what are known as “prevailing wages.” These wages are derived from the pay earned by union employees doing similar work in the area, and are often substantially higher than the wages paid on private, non-union jobs.  In addition, prevailing wage laws require employers to pay the cash value of fringe benefits. Department of Labor’s prevailing wage schedules are available here: 

http://wpp.labor.state.ny.us/wpp/publicViewPWChanges.do 

and the New York City Comptroller’s Office prevailing wage schedules are available here: http://www.comptroller.nyc.gov/bureaus/bll/schedules.shtm

In New York, prevailing wage laws cover employees doing construction, repair, and maintenance work on publicly owned buildings and facilities, like public schools, highways, hospitals and jails. Public work also includes building services work such as cleaning, gardening, and security work.

Because prevailing wages are so much higher than wages in private, non-union work, unscrupulous employers an incentive to break the law and underpay their employees.  If you are a non-union employee working on a New York State or New York City public building or facility, and are getting the same pay as when you do work for private facilities, then you maybe unlawfully underpaid.

Beranbaum Menken represents a wide variety of employees in prevailing wage lawsuits, such as fire alarm workers, roofers, boilermakers, and masons. In 2013, we obtained a $5.5 million settlement from Simplex Grinnell LP in a class action filed on behalf of fire alarm and sprinkler workers who were not paid prevailing wages. If you are working on a public facility, and think you are underpaid for your public work, contact Beranbaum Menken for a consultation.  

Home Attendants and Domestic Employees

Home attendants, also known as home health aides, and domestic workers are generally entitled to be paid the minimum wage and overtime for their work. Often, employers treat home attendants and domestic workers as exempt from the wage and hour laws. Employers often fail to pay overtime to such workers, and sometimes go so far as to pay them a “flat fee” for a full 24-hour shift, rather than paying them their hourly wage (plus overtime) for each hour worked.

Whether flat-rates for 24-hour shifts violates federal and state law depends on a number of different factors, including where the work was performed, what type of work was being performed and what kind of facilities (sleeping and otherwise) were provided at the workplace.

Beranbaum Menken attorneys have represented a large number home attendants and home health aides in wage and hour disputes, including individual litigations and numerous large class actions. We are highly familiar with this area of law and can help you determine whether you’ve been properly paid and to help you recover any wages you are owed. Contact us to schedule a consult.

Misclassification of Exempt Employees

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New York Labor Law (NYLL) protect workers and ensure that they are paid proper wages. Most workers are entitled to overtime pay , as well as the minimum wage. Some workers, however, are exempt from the protections of the FLSA and the NYLL. However, employers often wrongly claim that workers are exempt (“misclassify” them) to get around their legal obligations to pay minimum wage and overtime.

Examples of employees who are not required to be paid overtime or the minimum wage include:

  • Management employees whose work is directly related to the actual management of the business, like managers, directors and other executives who are empowered to make leadership decisions and supervise two or more people;
  • Administrators whose work is directly related to the general administration of the business, who perform non-manual office work, and who exercise discretion and judgment in matters of significant importance, like administrators, accountants and human resources personnel;
  • Professionals who have specialized academic training that they utilize in their jobs, like lawyers, dentists, architects and doctors;
  • Computer specialists, such as network administrators and Internet and database administrators;
  • Salespeople who work in the field, outside the main place of business;
  • People in a recognized creative or artistic field, who have artistic discretion over the product of their work.

Exemptions to the federal and state labor laws are very narrow, meaning that a worker must fit clearly into a specific category in order to be considered exempt. Employers, however, tend to try and get out of their labor law obligations by squeezing people into exemptions where they don’t fit.

For example, many people who perform routine office work are misclassified as exempt “administrative” employees, because we think of “administrative” work as being similar to the work of assistants or paralegals. However, most assistants and paralegals are not exempt, and are thus entitled to overtime pay. Similarly, some employers will try to classify any employee working in a creative industry as an “artist,” even though the employee is essentially painting by numbers and has no discretion over the artistic direction of their work.

The determination of whether any given individual is exempt or entitled to overtime protection depends heavily on the specific facts of their situation. The lawyers at Beranbaum Menken have extensive experience with the FLSA and NYLL exemptions, and can help you figure out whether you have been misclassified. If you have been inappropriately classified as an exempt rather than nonexempt employee, we can help you recoup your back pay and overtime wages.

Overtime

Most employees are entitled by law to earn time-and-a-half for all hours over 40 in a week. The time-and-a-half requirement applies to their “regular hourly wage,” meaning that a worker making $8/hour is entitled to $16/hour for overtime hours, and someone else making $50/hour is entitled to $75/hour for overtime. 

Many employers claim their employees are “exempt” to avoid paying them their rightful overtime. Other employers simply avoid keeping records or claim they simply do not have to pay employees for all hours they work. Most employees we represent who are not paid theminimum wage are also denied overtime pay, including home health aides and tipped employees

If you believe that you have been wrongfully denied your overtime pay, contact us to schedule a consultation.

Minimum Wage

Most employees have the right to be paid at least minimum wage. At present, the federal and state minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Many employers attempt to get around this requirement by claiming that their employees are exempt from minimum wage protections, or that they do not have to pay employees for all hours they work.

Beranbaum Menken currently represents many employees who have been wrongly denied the minimum wage, including:

  • Home health attendants particularly those who work overnight shifts and are not paid the minimum wage.
  • Tipped employees whose employers have wrongfully credited tips towards the employer’s obligation to pay the minimum wage.
  • Residential janitors who are expected to be on call for 24 hours per day but who are only paid for their daytime hours.
  • Employees whose employers simply fail to accurately record or pay actual hours worked.
  • Employees who have been misclassified as “exempt” from the minimum wage laws.

Beranbaum Menken attorneys have successfully represented numerous employees who have had wages wrongfully withheld by their employers. We can help you determine whether you have been the victim of wage theft, and take action on your behalf to help you recoup your lost wages and other damages.