Craig Rosenbaum | March 23, 2023 | New York Laws
Undocumented workers in NYC work many hours in jobs that are often labor-intensive with undesirable work conditions. The last thing they need is for an employer to take advantage of their immigration status to cheat them out of the wages they earned.
Unfortunately, undocumented workers might be fearful of filing wage claims. They can consult a New York labor lawyer about their situation during a confidential, free consultation.
What Are Your Rights as an Undocumented Employee in New York City?
If you work in NYC, you have specific rights, regardless of your immigration status. New York laws protect employee rights in many ways, including but not limited to the following:
- Earn paid safe and sick leave after working more than 80 hours a year
- Receive minimum wage for all hours worked, including overtime pay for working more than 40 hours in a workweek
- Be free from discrimination in the workplace
- Work in a safe and healthy environment
Workers in New York City are also protected from employer retaliation if a worker reports a violation of New York labor laws. Furthermore, employers are prohibited from threatening to report or reporting you or your family members’ immigration status for exercising your rights under New York labor laws.
Pay for Undocumented Workers in New York City
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), undocumented workers are entitled to wages they earn, just like documented workers and U.S. citizens. The FLSA also requires employers to pay minimum wages and overtime compensation regardless of immigration status.
Likewise, the New York City Human Rights Law protects individuals from discrimination because of their immigration or citizenship status. An employer is prohibited from paying undocumented workers lower wages or no wages because of their immigration status.
Common wage and hour disputes in New York City include:
- Failing to pay minimum wage or overtime
- Refusing to provide required sick leave or paid time off
- Failure to provide a final paycheck within a reasonable time
- Lowering an employee’s wage rate without proper notice
- Failing to pay an employee all tips earned
- The worker’s paycheck bounced for insufficient funds
- The employee did not receive wages for on-the-job training
- Improperly or illegally withholding money from a worker’s paycheck
- Failure to pay earned bonuses or commissions
- Misclassifying a worker
- Requiring workers to work “off the clock”
You have the right to recover unpaid wages, even though you are an undocumented worker. A New York City labor lawyer will review your case during a free case evaluation. The appointment is confidential and private.
Filing a Wage and Hour Claim in New York City as an Undocumented Worker
If your employer did not pay you the wages you earned, you have a couple of options to recover unpaid wages.
First, you can file a wage claim with the New York Department of Labor. Some employees can file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. New York City workers can also file a lawsuit against their employer to recover unpaid wages.
What Damages Could I Receive for an Unpaid Wages Claim in New York City?
New York employers are subject to penalties when they violate wage and hour laws. Employees can receive back pay for regular wages and overtime wages. Sometimes, an employee can receive interest, attorneys’ fees, and legal costs.
An employee may recover liquidated damages in an unpaid wage claim. If your employer violated minimum wage, overtime, rest period, or meal break laws, you could receive liquid damages equal to your back pay.
For example, suppose your employer owes you $2,000 in overtime wages. The employer could be liable for an additional $2,000 in liquidated damages. Therefore, you would receive a total of $4,000 for your wage claim in New York City.
In addition to paying the worker damages, an employer could face criminal charges for unpaid wages. Violations of New York labor law for failing to pay wages could result in a misdemeanor or felony charge. The punishment could include a $20,000 fine and prison time.
Get Legal Help With an Unpaid Wages Claim in NYC
It helps to seek legal advice to decide what option for recovering unpaid wages is best for your situation. There could be circumstances in your case that would make filing a lawsuit better than filing a wage claim with a government agency. An attorney will advise you on the best option to obtain your unpaid wages.
Furthermore, a lawyer can help protect you from employer retaliation for filing a wage and hour claim. Moving forward without legal advice could hurt your chance of success.