New York Overtime and Tip Sharing Laws: Do You Know Your Rights?

There are hundreds of laws, both state and federal, that govern the employer-employee relationship in New York. As an employee, it is essential that you understand these laws and their respective requirements so that you protect your legal rights and take home the wages you have earned. When an employer fails to follow the law, the employees are the ones who suffer. Even if an employer’s failure to follow established regulations is not malicious, you may be able to file a claim and receive back wages or other relief.

Many salaried employees mistakenly believe that they are not entitled to overtime pay. However, unless an employee works in a position that is specifically exempt from overtime regulations, that employee is entitled to overtime pay of one-and-a-half times his or her rate of pay. The Department of Labor website clearly delineates which positions are exempt from overtime. For example, teachers and professional employees are exempt from overtime laws. Therefore, if your position is not listed in these exemptions, you are entitled to overtime pay. If your employer has failed to pay your overtime, you may be eligible for back wages. Your employer may also be penalized for the failure to provide overtime pay.

Additionally, if a nonexempt employee works over 40 hours in a single workweek, overtime pay will apply for those additional hours. This applies regardless of whether the employee is salaried or hourly. However, employers and employees may disagree as to how many hours an employee worked in a week. For example, if an employee continued working during the lunch hour, there may be disagreement as to whether that hour counts as “work.” According to the Department of Labor, if an employee continues to work on breaks, the employee should be credited for that work hour.  In situations such as this one, an employee may be eligible for a significant amount of back wages.

Earlier this year, substantial changes were made to overtime laws. Previously, one of the overtime exemptions included “high-level” workers. Whether an employee was “high-level” depended on that employee’s job description. However, since job descriptions vary significantly, and because a job description is at the discretion of the employer, the Department of Labor decided to instead focus on salary to determine whether someone is entitled to overtime pay or not.  Accordingly, as of December 1, 2016, if a nonexempt employee makes less than $47,476, that employee will receive overtime pay. Previously, the threshold was $23,660.

If you depend on tips for a portion of your salary, you should also be aware of certain regulations that govern this type of pay. According to the Department of Labor, a tipped employee is one who usually receives over $30 in tips each month. If your employer requires tip pooling, only employees who typically receive tips are supposed to pay into the pool and share. For example, in a restaurant, a hostess would not be eligible to receive any money from a tip pool, because she normally does not receive tips from customers. Employers, including members of management, are also prohibited from dipping into the pool. If your employer takes a portion of your tips, you may be able to file a claim.

Contact the Bell Law Group, PLLC To Learn More About Your Legal Rights

If your employer has possibly committed wage and hour violations, you need to hire an attorney who understands all fo the applicable state and federal employment laws. At Bell Law Group, PLLC, our attorneys are experienced in private employment claims. We offer a free consultation and have offices in New York, Florida, and Washington, D.C. To schedule your consultation, call (855) 333-2889 or contact us.