Wage and Hour Issues After City Wide Emergency: Employers Face Challenges After Boston Marathon Catastrophe

The calamity that shook Boston on April 15th reverberated especially powerfully here in New York City – our city still stings, nearly a dozen years after the 9/11 attacks.

On a legal level, the bombings had peculiar wage and hour implications.

During the manhunt for the two alleged bombers, Massachusetts and Boston officials asked businesses to close up and people to remain in their homes. Now that the Sturm und Drang is over, however, many employees are wondering: What does wage and hour law say about how/whether we’ll get paid after a disaster like this?

Let’s take a look at the implications for three classes of employees – exempt salaried workers, non-exempt employees, and people who work from home.

Salaried exempt employees

In general, if you’re exempt from overtime and minimum wage requirements – that is, if your duties qualify you for and are exempt and you are paid on salary, not per hour – your employer needs to pay you, even if the city or state goes on lock down. If your employer dings your salary for missing time during closure, he could lose the right to exempt you from overtime. There are caveats here, of course. If you miss an entire week, for instance, then your salary (potentially) can be affected.

Employees who are not exempt

If you are a salaried employee who is not exempt or an hourly employee (virtually always not exempt), your employer does not have an obligation to pay you for time missed during a lockdown or similar emergency. Of course, your employer still might pay you out of a sense of fairness.

The situation gets slightly more complicated for non-exempt employees who showed up to work on Friday before the Massachusetts lockdown was imposed. Employees trapped at work because of the lockdown might have done work anyway. In that case, they deserve to collect the usual rate of pay for the work done.

Employees who work at home

Thanks to the magic of the world wide web, more and more employees in Boston, New York and beyond telecommute — or at least occasionally work remotely. Non-exempt employees who work remotely should receive their typically hourly rate (and overtime at time and a half, if applicable).

Making Sense of Your Wage and Hour Issues After a Disruptive Event

Did your boss recently withhold money, underpay you or fail to pay you for work you did during a disruptive event, such as a storm, catastrophe or other strange event?

Before you rush to judgment, appreciate that your employer may not fully have understood his or her obligations. Simple misunderstandings can be ironed out quickly, once everyone understands the relevant law.

The team here at Joseph and Kirschenbaum can help you appreciate your rights and ensure a fair, final arrangement. Get in touch with us now at (212) 688-5640 for a free and confidential consultation, or email us at info@jhllp.com.