Articles Posted in Overtime

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?

Joseph & Kirschenbaum’s own Maimon Kirschenbaum was profiled extensively in a new article at Grubstreet.com: “Why Are New York’s Chefs Afraid of This Man?

Attorney Kirschenbaum has won a reputation for standing up against powerful restaurant interests and defending employees who’ve had their tips and overtime unfairly docked. But despite Kirschenbaum’s reputation as a “scourge” — someone who, in the words of Joe Bastianich, is “shaking the very foundation of Manhattan’s restaurant industry” — he comes off as modest and unassuming in the profile.

At just 34-years-old, Kirschenbaum is as precocious as he is relentlessness. His mother ran a kosher restaurant. So he grew up intimately familiar with how restaurants work (or should work). But he only graduated from law school eight years ago, and he claims that he “didn’t even know there were these kinds of cases [i.e. restaurant wage and hour cases] until 2006”!

It’s a bit of a riddle: why don’t more business owners respect the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Laws? The rules are pretty straightforward and easy to understand. Yet so many businesses struggle to abide by them.

Consider the latest salvo in the ongoing battle for wage fairness: the drivers of New York’s “Black Car Services” (a company that transports business clients) just filed a four count class action lawsuit against the Executive Transportation Group et al. They allege that the defendants violated both New York Labor Laws and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act by:

• Failing to keep good records;

Would defendants in a New York wage and hour class action lawsuit ever dare to intimidate potential plaintiffs out of making a claim?

You might be thinking: that sounds like good fodder for a police procedural. But there’s no way actual restaurant owners, in our day and age, would engage in such backroom arm-twisting.

You might be surprised.

Perhaps you work as a server at a New York City restaurant.

You notice that some points in the tip pool are given to workers that are prohibited from sharing by law. Workers not allowed to share in the pool normally include:

Silver polishers, dishwashers, coffee makers that do not bring coffee to the tables, kitchen staff, expediters, napkin folders,wine directors, chefs,managers, floor managers, Maitre d’s with managerial authorities and owners

The team here at Joseph & Kirschenbaum has prosecuted many landmark wage and hour cases against restaurants in New York City for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

If you’ve studied our blog or learned about our work, you will quickly (hopefully) conclude that the restaurant industry here in the Big Apple has a big problem. Given the copious overtime, record keeping, minimum wage and tip pool violations that we’ve seen, one wonders whether some of these businesses are even aware of laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Apparently, the restaurant industry in New York is not alone in flouting the FLSA.

On July 31, 2009, the team here at Joseph & Kirschenbaum filed a collective action and class action lawsuit against a prominent New York restaurant corporation. The plaintiffs we represented alleged that the restaurant failed to abide by New York state labor law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for a combined total of seven years.

The plaintiffs alleged that the restaurant:

  • Failed to compensate them fairly for hours worked, according to rules set by both Federal and New York state law;

In May, Joseph & Kirschenbaum finalized a class action settlement in a major New York City wage and hour violation case that could have tectonic implications for the restaurant industry.

Although we cannot disclose detailed facts about this case, this blog post will explain what happened and provide you with resources to manage your own situation, if you or someone you love has been financially hurt by tip pool violations or other workplace malfeasance.

The plaintiff was an out-of-state resident who worked at a big, highly respected fine ethnic restaurant over the past three years. He and other members of the class alleged that defendant committed “wage and hour” violations, knowingly and willfully, by retaining tips in violation of New York law that caused economic injury.

In 2008, the team at Joseph & Kirschenbaum fought for the rights of servers in a complex class action lawsuit unusual in that it was heard in state court, not federal. It involved one of the most conspicuously celebrated restaurants in Manhattan. We will not reveal the name and location of this eatery, but understand that it was (and is) a prominent establishment — the site of many a celebrity wedding, tony cocktail party, and gala soirée.

Sadly, for all the restaurant’s luster, many servers wound up with the short end of the stick.

In violation of New York law, the Defendant knowingly and willfully retained servers’ tips, when the servers worked at special parties. The hosts of these events generally paid a fixed gratuity to the restaurant, which should have, by law (and also by moral imperative), been distributed to the hardworking servers who catered to the guests.

Plaintiff Neville Brown and others similarly situated have brought a lawsuit alleging that Brown and fellow construction workers failed to receive fair payment for their work, per New York’s Wage and Hour laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Defendants Empire Appraising Services Inc. and Roger Strongwater face challenging allegations, to say the least.

The allegations paint a compelling picture:

• Brown and fellow construction workers allege that they were paid a set amount per shift (i.e. shift pay) which did not vary based upon how many hours they worked per week.

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