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Wage and Hour FAQs

How much unpaid overtime can I recover?

An employee may typically recover two or three years of unpaid overtime, plus penalties and interest, depending on whether or not the employer willfully violated the law. A misclassified worker should file a claim as soon as possible to put a stop to this unfair treatment and recover as much lost wages as possible.

How come waiters and waitresses don’t get paid the minimum wage?

The law makes an exception for food service workers (waiters, waitresses, servers) and others who rely on tips for much of their income. Under New York law, food service workers may earn a minimum wage of $5.00 an hour, and other service workers may be paid only $5.65 an hour, in addition to the tips they receive. If your wages plus tips do not equal the minimum wage, your employer may be in violation of wage and hour laws.

Do I have to buy my own uniform?

If you are required to wear a uniform as part of your job, and the cost of maintaining the uniform brings your pay below the minimum wage, then the employer may be in violation of the law. Your employer should either provide you with the uniform and maintain it or provide you with an allowance for the purchase and maintenance (dry cleaning) of the uniform.

What about meals and lodging when I am away for business?

If your job requires you to take meals on the road or stay away from home overnight, your employer should cover these costs. This is usually done either by submitting your receipts for an expense reimbursement, or your employer may give you a daily amount (per diem) to cover these costs while you are away on business. Ask your employer what the policy is on expense reimbursement, or contact an attorney if you are not being reimbursed for your expenses on the job.

Am I exempt from overtime if I am on salary instead of being paid hourly?

Not necessarily. Being paid on a salary basis (of not less than $455 per week) is only one part of the test for exempt employees. You must also qualify as an executive, administrative, or professional employee or fit into one of the other categories of exempt employees in order to be exempt from overtime. Many people are misclassified as exempt employees when they should be receiving overtime pay. If your boss tells you that you are an exempt employee, you should consult with a labor and employment law attorney who can tell you whether you are being properly classified or being unfairly denied wages which are owed to you.