How much is the minimum wage?
The federal minimum wage for non-tipped employees is currently $7.25. The federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13.
Many states and some cities and counties around the country have higher minimum and tipped minimum wage rates. See below for more information on New York, California and select other local minimum wage rates.
Find out more information on tipped employees and the tipped minimum wage.
What deductions and expenses can I be required to pay?
Employers are not permitted to take deductions from an employee’s wages or require an employee to pay for certain business expenses if such deductions or expenses effectively reduce the employee’s wages below the minimum wage or overtime requirements.
Some states, including New York, are extremely specific about the types of deductions that employers may take from an employee’s wages. In general, these deductions must be taken for the benefit of the employee (such as pension, health care), not the employer. Kickbacks, or payments employees must make to employers out of, are illegal under New York state law.
New York state also contains detailed rules for what types of uniform expenses and uniform maintenance expenses (dry-cleaning) an employer can require an employee to spend and what types of costs an employer must compensate.
How much can I recover?
If you are a non-exempt worker, you are entitled to recover the difference between your hourly rate and the minimum wage in effect during the period of time when you worked. For example, if the minimum wage in your area is $10 per hour for your industry and position but you are only paid $7 per hour, you are entitled to recover $3 for each hour worked.
If you worked over 40 hours per week, you are entitled to receive overtime at a rate no lower than 1.5 times the minimum wage rate. In the above example, if you are paid $7 per hour and work 50 hours of work, you are entitled to recover a total of $200 per week: $120 ($3 per hour times 40 hours) plus $80 ($15-$7 for $8 per hour times 10 hours). Find out more about a detailed overtime calculator, including tipped overtime.
If your employer required you to pay business expenses, such as equipment or losses, that reduced your effective hourly rate below the minimum wage rate over a workweek, you are entitled to recover the difference between your effective hourly rate and the minimum wage rate. For example, a bicycle delivery employee who is paid minimum wage and is required to spend $20 per week out of pocket on repairs and maintenance is entitled to recover the $20 per week. The law considers that, since he is required to spend money for his employer, he is entitled to recover that expense to the extent that it causes his wages to fall below the minimum wage.
Under federal law, employees can recover for 2 or 3 years of unpaid wages. Some states have longer recovery periods. In New York, employees can recover for 6 years of unpaid wages.
In addition to unpaid wages, federal law permits employees to recover “double damages” under some circumstances where the court determines that an employer acted in bad faith in not paying minimum wage.