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New York City Employment Law: Illegal Immigrants Also Deserve OT

New York City employment law is clear: illegal immigrants must be paid overtime too.New York City employment lawyers were closely following the case involving Cindy’s Total Care Inc., a nail salon in Manhattan, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Originally, the department sued the company, saying it owed overtime pay to its employees. The nail salon sued back, saying it didn’t have to pay overtime because the workers were illegal immigrants. Who won?

The Department of Labor – to the tune of more than $245,00 in back pay and court costs to some 32 employees. The nail salon has also been ordered to fix its violations with regard to record keeping and overtime pay, as required under the Solis v. Cindy’s Total Care Inc., however, resolves the issue of how illegal immigrants factor into the equation. This is actually not a new development. Courts have long held that employers have to pay their workers a fair wage, regardless of whether of their immigration status.

This all started by an investigation into the luxury spa and salon’s practices that was kick-started by the department’s New York City office in the Wage and Hour Division. That investigation uncovered the fact that employees were being mandated to work more than 40 hours each week and were not being paid overtime – that is, a time-and-a-half rate, which is required under the law. Instead, the owner was paying her workers a set rate for each day, no matter how many hours they had actually worked. Most of her employees were working 10 hours each day for six days every week.

What’s more, the department revealed that the salon owner was keeping no record of how many hours were actually worked and how much each employee was being paid.

Maria Rosado, who heads the New York City division of the labor department, said that low-wage workers in this type of industry are vulnerable and often taken advantage of. She said they are afraid to speak out about wage violations because they may fear retaliation or even deportation. She said, however, that the labor department would aggressively investigate such claims, particularly because not only are workers’ rights infringed upon, but it gives those employers who skirt the law an unfair advantage over competitors.

The breakdown of the findings were as follows: $118,000 in overtime wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages (which are paid directly to the employees affected); $8,400 in trial costs.

The Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that workers have to be paid at least the federal minimum wage – which is $7.25 each hour – as well as time-and-one-half of their hourly rate for each hour that they work over 40 hours.

Additionally, the law mandates that businesses have to keep accurate and thorough records of how much time their workers are on-the-clock, and how much they earn.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides employment law legal counsel in New York City, Great Neck, Long Island and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.

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