One way that New York State law protects you from potential overtime and wage hour violations is by requiring your employer to provide you with a wage statement, i.e., a pay stub. A wage statement must include basic information about the hours you worked during a given pay period, your regular and overtime pay rates, your gross wages, any deductions required by law, and your net wages. This wage statement is not optional–your employer must provide one every time that you are paid.
Federal Judge Rejects Employer's Efforts at Legal Trickery
Does the law require your employer to give you an “accurate” wage statement, or just some sort of wage statement? This may sound like a ridiculous question, but an upstate New York employer actually claimed the law did not require accuracy as part of its defense to a recent wage and hour case. Fortunately, the federal judge overseeing the case did not buy into this line of reasoning.
The plaintiff in this case sued the defendant, his former employer, for a variety of wage and hour violations. Among the plaintiff's charges was that the employer failed to provide the necessary wage statements required by New York law. Later, after the defendant produced some documents purporting to be wage statements, the plaintiff modified his complaint to allege that those statements were not accurate.
This is where the employer tried to argue that New York law only “entitles an employee to wage statements, but not to accurate wage statements.” In defense of this novel argument, the employer pointed to another clause in the same law that says employers must keep “true and accurate payroll records.” Yet the clause at issue here only requires the employer provide “a statement” without specifying it must also be “true and accurate.”
The judge, however, said that the “ordinary” meaning of a statement should be interpreted to mean “an accurate statement” and held that the plaintiff could proceed with his claim that the defendant failed to comply with the law on this issue.
Another issue that arose in this lawsuit was whether or not the employer could “moot” the plaintiff's lawsuit by offering to settle the case. Here, the employer offered to settle by paying all of the back wages demanded by the plaintiff. The plaintiff rejected this offer, in part because he is asking for additional non-monetary relief against the employer.
The employer nevertheless maintained the litigation was “mooted” by its settlement offer. The judge disagreed. Although it is possible in for a defendant to dismiss a case by tendering full payment of the requested damages to the court itself, that is not what the employer did here. Accordingly, the judge said the case remained active.
Holding New York Employers Accountable
Employers will try all kinds of legal tricks to avoid their responsibility to pay their employees fairly. Do not let your employer get away with such trickery. If you are the victim of wage and hour violation and need immediate assistance from a qualified New York employment law attorney, contact the Law Offices of White, Nisar & Hilferty, LLP.