How to File an Unpaid Wages Claim in New York

Any employee has the right to be compensated for every hour of work that they finished. As a New York employee, you are entitled to file a complaint if your employer doesn’t pay you for all or any portion of your earned wages. 

Examples of Wage Theft

Employers must disclose the basis for employee payment at the time of hiring and can’t take their earnings after they’ve been hired. When an employer does indeed take from their employee, it is considered wage theft– a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employers can commit this in various ways; here are examples of common wage theft violations:

  • Minimum wage violations
  • Failing to pay overtime wages
  • Misclassifying employees as independent contractors
  • Requiring employees to work “off the clock” (before and/or after their regular shifts or during meal breaks)
  • Taking illegal deductions in pay
  • Misappropriating tips 

Employee Methods and Tactics 

Employers can wrongfully withhold their employees’ wages and cheat them out of overtime using various methods. At a lot of companies, this is one of the biggest expenses is employee compensation and also a common form of wage theft. Employers may have incentive to falsify employee time keeping records to show employees working less hours and withhold benefits in order to reduce costs and increase profits. Additionally, the FLSA requires New York employees to pay their employees for overtime. You can’t agree to waive overtime payments or sign away your rights to the money that you’re entitled to receive, despite an employer requesting you to do this.  

Statute of Limitations

Just because your employer is cheating you out of your wages, doesn’t automatically mean that you’re going to get your overtime compensation or your wages back. To get what you’re entitled to, you must take action within a reasonable amount of time. First, you should demand your wages directly from the employer and can the report the problem to your Human Resources Department. If this approach doesn’t adequately resolve the issue, or they fail to investigate your case, you can take things outside of the company and file a claim with the Department of Labor or sue your employer directly to recover your wages.

You must bring your claim within 2 years after you realize that your employer violated provisions of the FLSA. If it’s a “willful” violation, then you have 3 years to file against your employer. However, in New York, the equivalent labor laws allow you to file for up to 6 years after a violation. 

Recoverable Damages

In New York, an employee who files an unpaid wage claim can recover an additional sum of damages – liquidated damages. If your wage claim includes wage and hour violations, as well as violations of meal and rest breaks and overtime laws, you can collect the total amount of your unpaid wages, in addition to liquidated damages. 

Also, if you prevail, you would be entitled to recover the following:

  • Legal costs
  • Attorney fees
  • Interest on your unpaid wages

Get Legal Help Filing your Unpaid Wages Claim

Understanding how to file for unpaid wage claim in New York can be complex. If you’re not sure whether your potential claim is worth pursuing, you can talk it over with an experienced attorney. MOWK Law employment attorneys are familiar with the ins and outs of wage and hour violations and can advocate passionately on your behalf. Contact us for help with your next steps.