Articles Posted in Tip Pool Violations

The American Northwest has quickly become a hot bed of progressive activism, especially with respect to labor law.

Earlier this summer, the city of Seattle adopted a $15 per hour minimum wage. It also became only the second city in the entire nation to create its own office just for enforcing labor standards by opening the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

But despite the optimism from city officials, like Mayor Ed Murray, some observers worry that Seattle’s government will have a hard time enforcing the $15 minimum wage. And even if the model in Seattle works, the questions remain:

A viral Facebook post inspired Israeli legislators to alter that country’s labor laws, making it illegal for employers to seize portions of employees’ paychecks.

Here’s how the exciting story (with a happy ending) played out, according to local media.

A Jaffa Port club called The Container hired a woman named Anat Kamrad as a server, but she opted out of working at the restaurant because of the establishment’s radical rules regarding customer returns. Per Kamrad, if a customer didn’t like a dish and sent it back, the server would have to pay half the cost of the meal. If a customer left without paying, the server would have to pay the entire cost of the meal, no matter how much the meal itself cost.

Our New York wage and hour attorneys strive to assist workers who’ve experienced grievous harms, like harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. We also hope to educate the broader public about some of the shameful practices that contribute to worker misery and inequality.

To wit, a recent story in the New York Times caught our eye and kindled our ire.

Apparently, fast food restaurants around the country, such as Jimmy John’s, have been asking their sandwich shop workers to sign “non-compete” clauses. If you’re not familiar with these clauses, they are agreements that prevent employees from seeking work at competitive businesses within a certain timeframe.

The New York Times recently ran a provocative story that speaks to what motivates our New York employment lawyers to get up every morning and do what we do.

The story highlighted the differences between the lives and lifestyles of Danish fast food workers and fast food workers here in the United States. Believe it or not, if you work at a Danish Burger King, you can earn $20 an hour. Even though the cost of living in Denmark is higher than it is in the United States, this much higher hourly wage allows fast food workers in Denmark to pay their rents and mortgages, support their families, and live decent lives.

Hampus Elofsson, a 24 year-old Danish Burger King worker, explained: “You can make a decent living here working at fast food…you don’t have to struggle to get by.”

As New York City employment lawyers who are deeply concerned with the rights and fair treatment of workers, we nevertheless obviously respect our country’s capitalistic economic institutions. Our society’s view of what’s “fair” is always evolving. Today, the rallying cry “equal pay for equal work” is accepted as obvious common sense. But not long ago, it was considered a radical notion. In fact, in many countries around the world today, it still is.

Even though we’ve come a long way, however, we have farther to go, as Elianne Ramos discusses eloquently in a guest blog post she recently wrote on the official blog of the U.S. Labor Department: “Latinas and Their Families Can’t Afford Unequal Pay for Equal Work (Para Latinas la Desigualdad Salarial Cuesta Mucho).”

Ramos reports that Latinas have made major strides over the years in terms of participation in U.S. politics, higher education and small business operation. However, she warns that “when it comes to pay equality, we seem to be perennially stuck at the bottom of the barrel.”

You don’t need to consult with a New York wage and hour law firm to learn that making a living and feeding your family in New York City can be tough if you earn minimum wage.

NYC is notoriously expensive. Even well off married couples, who earn combined incomes that would make them wealthy in any other city in the nation, often find themselves living in cramped apartments, barely able to pay rent and feed their families.

For people who survive on minimum wage jobs, the unbearable costs of the city can force folks to live marginal existences. We at Joseph & Kirschenbaum fight vigorously on behalf of restaurant workers and other laborers who suffer when management skims their tips, docks overtime, and engages in other acts of “nickel and diming,” because we know those lost wages can add up and cause ferocious destruction. Fortunately, we’re not the only ones outraged.

Our New York employment attorneys aren’t the only ones seeing more cases related to wage theft. As more companies cut corners and more employees report shrinking paychecks, the number of lawsuits grows nationwide.

Current or recent cases involving wage theft include:

• Schneider.
A national trucking company that provide services to Walmart is now paying out $21 million in a settlement with Rangel and other individuals robbed of their rightful overtime pay.

Our New York employment attorneys have been examining recent efforts by the White House to strengthen workers’ overtime protections. The 2014 initiative, which began in March, seeks to reevaluate and adjust existing policies to reflect the changing realities of the workforce and ensure every employee receives fair pay.

According to the White House, current overtime laws fail to take into account the current economy and the circumstances of American workers. For instance, the “white collar exemption” is often used by employers to prevent salaried workers earning more than $561 per week – or working in certain professions – from earning overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours. This negatively affects many low-income workers, who work long hours without adequate compensation.

The Presidential Memorandum seeks to work with the Secretary of Labor to address several concerns, including:

The number of Americans dissatisfied with one or more aspects of their jobs is shocking, as New York employment attorneys are well aware. According to a study reported in the New York Times, half or more of U.S. workers reported fundamental limitations to their ability to think creatively, focus on individual tasks, perform enjoyable work, and find meaning in their professions.

Those employees reporting high satisfaction levels at work attributed their sense of fulfillment to several factors, including:

• Breaks.
Taking a break every 90 minutes can yield up to 30 percent higher focus levels than for those who take one or fewer breaks per day. It can also result in 50 percent higher creativity and 46 percent greater feelings of health or wellbeing. Employers who encourage their employees to take breaks also enjoy higher retention rates.

New York employment attorneys are keeping a close watch on the changing laws and trends in our country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 2.3 million servers currently work in the United States, many of whom depend on tips for their livelihood. Consumers pay $42 billion in tips to servers every year, but many people know little about where their money goes.

This excellent infographic from Accounting Degree Review provides valuable information for tipped employees (and their customers) about the history and current state of compensation for servers.

Equity Theory and Tipping

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