Anyone who has known me professionally for a while will most likely have heard me mention “wage notices”. These are written notices that all employers in New York must give every employee within 10 days of hire. These written notices MUST include some particular information and be handled in the correct way.
To help employers give this notice out right, New York State created a generic template which looks like this:
To give this wage notice in accordance with the law, employers need only follow some pretty simple instructions: (1) fill out all the employer information; (2) fill out whatever information applies to the employee; (3) have the employee check that they received the notice in English, or (if applicable) in their primary language; (4) have the employee sign and date it; (5) give the employee a copy; and (6) save the original for at least six years.
If it’s so easy, what’s the problem?
Not every business retains an employment lawyer to figure out what their wage and hour obligations are. What ends up happening is that some employers don’t realize that they need to give this notice out. Or, don’t know about this form. Or, they don’t properly follow the instructions.
But, whatever their reasons might be, unless this form (or something substantially like it) is given out in accordance with the instructions above, the employer has failed to comply with its wage notice obligations.
So what? Why do I care?
Well, the only way an employer can steal your wages is by keeping you in the dark about what you're supposed to be paid. Having a written document which gives you all of the particulars of your employment is the first step to ensuring that your employer does not take advantage of you.
So if you don't remember getting one, you need to be asking yourself "why aren't they telling me what I should be earning?". It could have simply been a mistake... But, then again, it could be indicative of a much larger problem. You will never know unless you start asking questions.
And, more directly, under the law, if your employer ultimately cannot prove they gave this wage notice to you, or if they gave you one which was incomplete, your employer is subject to a $50.00/day penalty, which caps at $5,000.00. But it’s not the State which collects this penalty – it’s the EMPLOYEE that does.
That’s why you should care. Any job that you had in the past six years which cannot prove they complied with this wage notice requirement, and where you’ve worked at least 100 work days (after a 10-day grace period), could owe YOU $5,000.00.
And you can sue to collect.
I know what you’re saying: “But Mike, hiring an attorney will probably cost me much more than $5,000.00”. And you’d be right. But thankfully, should you sue and win, your attorneys would be able to have their fees added on to your damages. Because of this, many attorneys (myself included) will take on this kind of lawsuit on a “contingency” basis.
This means that should you lose, you will pay nothing. But should you win, this effectively means it is not you, but your employer, who will be paying YOUR attorney's fees IN ADDITION TO the damages they owe you.
Essentially, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
So, take another look at the form at the top of the blog. If you don't recognize it as something you received when you were hired at any job you have had in the past six years, you could be entitled to money.
Please call (914) 222-5786 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a free consultation to speak with an experienced wage and hour attorney who can advise you of your rights and help you get you what you're owed.