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December 2014 Archives

My Employees Compensation Package Includes Room & Board. Do I Still Have to Pay Minimum Wage?

Sometimes in employment situations in White Plains, NY you might have an employee who lives on premises, it could be at home, a healthcare worker, and it also can be someone who works in an apartment building and acts as a superintendent or a laborer in the building and they are provided in exchange for services rendered room and board. That might be in the form of an apartment that’s rent free, it may be in the form of a bedroom in a home which you are taking care of elderly clients, it could be in the form of also providing meals, it could be in the form of part time or full time living status and there are appropriate provisions in the law which allow the employer to count that provision of room and board as part of the employees wage. What you need to be very careful of in this situation is that the minimum wage law is still applied even though that room and board is being provided as part of the wage and you must be very careful to document it and keep track of exactly how much that room and board is taking in terms of a deductions against that employees regular wage. You need to at the end of the day to make sure even when the person is living on the premises, they are not working every hour of every day. Keeping track of employees time is very critical, especially in this living situations because often times employees will leave the company or the employer and you find out that they are now claiming that they worked around the clock or they were woken up extra early to perform a particular task or that nine times out of ten they work 60 hours and not 40 hours a week and that’s where the problems arise. So, even though you may have provided them with free room and board and you deducted that from their minimum wage or hourly wage so that you still make the minimum wage and they are now saying that they worked extra hours and that pay doesn't amount to proper pay under New York state of federal law.

Am I Required To Keep Records of My Employees Rate of Pay and Hours Worked?

A lot of employers are unaware of the requirements in New York State and  that you  keep records of the hours that your employees work and off their pay rates. Oftentimes,  companies in White Plain, New York will hire outside payroll companies to handle these matters and certainly that’s advisable and certainly they can keep track of the hours the employees worked, as well as the rates of pay, any raises, any overtimes that paid, and vacations etc. but sometimes employers don’t want to go that expense and they keep that information to themselves. Oftentimes, employees are required to punch clocks or there might be a sign in and a sign out sheet or maybe there might be at the end of the week a simple sign off payroll record but one thing that a lot of employers don’t do, is that they don’t keep track, they trust their employees, especially in small companies and small employment situations, they trust that the employees are getting the job done within whatever number of hours that takes them to get it done. They trust that the employee is taking the appropriate lunch break and they are not extending their time over 40 hours a week or it might trigger a time issue. However, you can’t just always trust the circumstances because when you do that, you find yourself dealing with a subject of a lawsuit. For example, from an employee who could have left the company many years earlier and now feels that they are entitled to receive additional pay for all the work that they put in. It’s really critical as an employer that you keep track of your employees rates of pay, whatever overtimes that they are entitled to and you are paying them, their lunch breaks and all of those things really need to be accurately recorded, this way if you find yourself at the end of a lawsuit, your attorney can at least have the documentation to support your defense and any argument that you can make to try to in a way distinguish the claim whether it’s one year old, two or three years old, these things can take on a life of their own and you don’t want to be subjected to that down the road.

Denied Unemployment

I called out of work 3 days to care for my sick family member and my boss then approved it.  I then called to let him know I can return to work on the 4th day and he said I was terminated.  I was approved my unemployment and then the company wanted to fight it by stating I quit my job.

Do I Have To Provide Certain Employees Overtime Pay?

In terms of employee pay in White Plains, New York, often times, employers get caught up in legal requirements that they were unaware of. For example, there are certain wage and reporting requirements in terms of keeping documentation and providing written notification to employees of their rate of pay as well as their overtime rate of pay, some employees are paid on an hourly basis and some are paid on a salaried or an annual basis and there is often a misconception that is you receive a straight salary that you are not entitled to overpay and that’s not always accurate. Employers need to understand that the wage and overtime laws are really very technical and very complicated in terms of who is entitled to over pay and who is not. A lot of time there are gray areas regarding whether a particular employee falls within the area of an exemption of the overtime laws or whether they are actually required to be paying that employee overtime. In the event that you are mistaken whether your mistake is intentional or inadvertent, you could be subjected to some serious fines from New York’s state department labor laws as well as the fairness labor standard act divisions in the form of what we call liquidated damages, you could be subjected also to paying the attorneys fees of the employee council, if that employee brings a successful claim against you for failure to pay overtime. If you have any doubt or question on whether or not you are required to pay a particular employee overtime, you should absolutely seek legal advice in order to determine that. Simple research can be done with specific cases to back up your analysis of the matter and determine with finality whether or not you are required to pay that employee overtime. Sometimes, overtime issues can span the life of six years, six years of failing to pay overtime can also subject you to a very large damage award at the end of the day. As I mentioned there is the liquidated damages and attorney fees provisions, so it’s really critical that you make sure you are complying with the wage and overtime laws. If you are having an employee work more than 40 hours a week or in certain circumstances 44 hours a week that are required to, then trigger those overtime provisions.

Should an Employer Have An Attorney Investigate Allegations of Harassment or a Hostile Work Environment?

If an employer in White Plains, NY is faced with allegations of harassment or hostile work environment or some form of discrimination in the work place, a lot of times they want to handle it in-house and keep it confidential. The employer wants to make sure that it doesn't get out the four walls of the company, sometimes, that can be effective and efficient depending on whom you have on your staff. You may be absolutely entitled to do that but sometimes it’s advisable that you do hire an outside attorney in White Plains, New York. Often times companies will use their internal HR-human resources or personnel people but those individuals obviously know these employees, they have relationships and conversations with them and even lunch with some of these employees, who are either being accused of harassment or making accusations of harassment or are witnesses to harassment and you want to avoid any appearance of bias or any appearance of any conflict of interest in conducting the investigations and that’s why its typically advisable to contact an attorney in White Plains to conduct the investigation itself. Sometimes, the attorney during the investigation can give you added layer of protection in terms of confidentiality and privilege as well as it gives you the unbiased perspective in view going forward as to what you need to do to remedy the environment and that’s the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to determine whether the allegations of harassment have merit from an unbiased perspective and if there is merit to the allegations what steps need to be taken in order to stop the harassment that’s been occurring because ultimately your responsibility is to make sure your working environment is free from any kind of discrimination or harassment.

What To Do When An Employee Complains of Being Harassed by a Co-worker?

We often get calls from human resources personnel or owners of companies who have received complaints from their staff or employees that certain individuals are engaging in harassing behaviors. The term harassment is very general and broad and it can encompass any number of actions. What we need to do is to determine what the form of harassment is and why it’s happening. Sometimes, employees feel that they are being ‘harassed’ because they are receiving a performance review, and sometimes they feel harassed because their supervisor is making a change in the way that the job duties are being carried out, they feel that they are being harassed because suddenly the employer is enforcing things like taking a specific lunch hour or not coming in late whereas before there was a bit of flexibility or discretion. So, what needs to be evaluated in this situations is whether the harassment is being engaged in sort of unlawful reason and there obviously the employer is going to have a reason under the law to investigate those reasons and take remedial action to stop whatever that harassment action is or whether the harassment is more along the lines of employees complaining simply because they are having a problem on the job, they are not doing their job effectively and efficiently and as a result of that they feel that they are being harassed when they are called out for their mistakes. If there is a claim of unlawful harassment you absolutely should contact an attorney in New York because there are certain obligations employers have under the law to make sure that harassment stops. It doesn’t necessarily require a termination of the alleged harasser but in some circumstances it may and a lot of that depends on the particular facts and circumstances of the complaint itself as well as if there has been similar complaints against this particular harasser and even other complaints against the company as a whole so the whole situation needs to be evaluated and analyzed from a global perspective so that we can give you appropriate advice on how to deal with that going forward.

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