The Fair Labor Standards Act requires most employers in New York and around the country to pay their workers at a rate at least equal to the federal minimum wage, but the landmark 1938 law does not provide clear instructions for calculating wages and hours. Several federal courts have ruled that employers may base these calculations on workweeks rather than determining compensation on an hour-by-hour basis, and the Department of Labor, which is the federal agency tasked with administering the law, has not objected to this method being used.
The case of a disgruntled ferry boat operator in another state illustrates a potential defense strategy for employers in New York confronted by accusations of retaliatory discharge. Someone citing the Fair Labor Standards Act when suing a former employer could pursue damages that include back pay, front pay while unemployed, legal costs and reinstatement to a position. To control the potential costs of a settlement, an employer might exploit an angle known as failure to mitigate damages resulting from the termination.
A decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which includes New York, has affirmed the legality of employer-imposed arbitration requirements for claims involving the Fair Labor Standards Act. Although a previous ruling from the 2nd Circuit had required court supervision of settlements reached through arbitration, the panel of judges did not view this requirement as a ban on arbitration. The judges did not link judicial review of settlements with a prohibition on alternative dispute resolution methods.
As cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin and Etherium grow in the public consciousness and become more relevant in everyday life, New York employers may have incentives to pay their employees in crypto. Such an action might bring cryptocurrencies further into everyday use and help employers attract tech-savvy personnel. Entrepreneurs and business owners interested in paying employees in this way might run afoul of wage and hour regulations, however. Employers should be aware of the potential pitfalls of paying wages in other than U.S. currency.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act is a complex law that governs most employers in New York. Employers are required to comply with its wage and hour provisions and to pay a minimum hourly wage to their statutory, non-exempt employees. Workers sometimes file claims against their employers, alleging that the employers have violated the overtime and minimum wage provisions of the law. As one case recently demonstrates, employers may be able to defend against these lawsuits.
New York residents tend to celebrate the holidays with food and family. However, they may also celebrate with a fresh coat of snow on the ground. In some cases, the snow makes it impossible to operate a business. If an employer decides to close because of bad weather, exempt employees are generally still entitled to compensation. This is because the employer has chosen to keep workers away despite their willingness to work.
In October 2017, the Department of Labor created a proposal that would rescind a 2011 rule related to tip pooling. That rule forbids employers in New York and other parts of the country from forcing workers who aren't paid minimum wage from sharing tips with those who typically don't receive them. The proposal from the DOL would not require employers to abide by this rule if they pay tipped workers the minimum wage.
Whenever the minimum wage increases, small businesses tend to take the biggest hit. Finding where that extra money will come from isn't easy.
In New York, both public and private employers are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. There are differences between how the law applies, however. It is important for employers to understand the rules for their particular types of businesses so that they can avoid potential liability.