New York Labor Laws

In New York State, employees are entitled to certain rights. If their employer or a coworker violates these rights, the labor and employment lawyers at Morgan & Morgan are here to help.

Our attorneys take on civil litigation cases involving a wide range of labor disputes. In fact, our firm has been recognized for filing more labor and employment cases than anyone else in the United States.

Below we provide a brief overview of New York labor laws you should be aware of.

What Is Workplace Discrimination?

Federal law makes it illegal in all 50 states for employers to discriminate against employees and applicants based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, citizenship status, or genetic information. In addition, New York State protects workers against discrimination on account of marital status, military service, political activities, and several other characteristics.

Workplace discrimination can take many forms. You may have been a victim if:

  • You were rejected for a job based on the color of your skin
  • Due to your gender, you were denied a promotion in favor of a less qualified candidate
  • You were not afforded equal opportunity for training because of your religion
  • An employer imposed job criteria that deliberately exclude people with disabilities

What Are Some Examples of Workplace Harassment?

Federal and state laws exist to protect employees against threats, slurs, ridicule, offensive jokes, sexual advances, assault, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, and other forms of workplace harassment. Examples of workplace harassment include:

  • A coworker telling you a vulgar or sexual joke
  • Your boss making unwelcome comments about your appearance
  • A client telling insensitive jokes about various ethnic groups, and your employer justifying keeping the client for business reasons
  • A coworker making prejudicial statements about an employee’s heritage
  • Your supervisor flirting with another employee in front of you and your coworkers
  • Your boss making negative remarks about the capabilities of an older employee
  • A coworker hanging sexually suggestive pictures in his workspace

What Are Minimum Wage and Overtime Laws in New York?

As of December 31, 2019, the minimum wage is $15/hour in New York City, $13/hour in Long Island and Westchester, and $11.80/hour in the remainder of New York State. In addition to receiving at least minimum wage, employees must receive overtime compensation at 1.5 times their regular pay rate when working more than 40 hours in a week. Some employees are exempt from overtime pay if they are salaried or earn above a certain amount.

Despite these laws, many employers attempt to cut costs through unethical practices, such as:

  • Paying workers less than the minimum wage
  • Misclassifying employees as exempt in order to avoid paying overtime
  • Making employees work off-the-clock
  • Forcing tipped workers to pool their tips with non-tipped workers

What Is Wrongful Termination?

New York is an “at-will” employment state, meaning an employer can terminate an employee at any time, with or without reason. However, there are circumstances which may constitute wrongful termination, including:

  • Discrimination: It is illegal in New York for an employer to fire an employee based on a protected characteristic such as race, color, or religion.
  • Retaliation: Retaliation may come in a number of forms. For example, if an employee reports her boss to HR, and the boss fires her, that would constitute retaliation.
  • Breach of Contract: If a contract includes provisions for termination, an employer may not terminate the contract for reasons outside the procedures established in the contract.

Are Workers Entitled to Meal and Rest Breaks in New York?

In New York, employers are legally required to provide meal breaks, but not rest breaks. Even so, many New York employers provide rest breaks, realizing that it’s good practice. These breaks are considered part of the workday, and employees must be compensated for them. They cannot be deducted from an employee’s pay.

Why Should I Contact a New York Labor and Employment Attorney?

The labor and employment attorneys at Morgan & Morgan have extensive experience litigating all manners of labor disputes. In addition to the legal areas covered above, our legal team handles cases involving defamation of character, executive pay, denial of leave, and more.

Find out if you may have a case by filling out our free case evaluation form. It costs nothing to get started, and we get paid only if your claim is successful. Contact us now.


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