Because workers in New York are protected by state and federal wage and hour laws, they cannot be retaliated against for asserting their legal rights. This means that you cannot be fired for complaining about your employer’s unfair payment practices. Nonetheless, it takes a highly skilled wage and hour attorney to protect your rights.
Lipsky Lowe, LLP, is a premier employment law firm serving clients throughout the greater New York area. We have a proven history of pursuing successful wage and hour claims on behalf of employees in state and federal court and holding employers accountable for labor law violations. If you have been fired for complaining about wages, we will take the time to explain your rights and fight to obtain the compensation you have earned. When you become our client, you will have confidence, knowing that we will be the strength in your corner.
Wage and Hour Claims
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage and overtime standards for all employees in the country. While some employees are exempt from these provisions, employers in New York must also abide by the New York State Labor Department’s minimum wage rules and follow FLSA rules on overtime pay.
When employers do not pay the minimum wage, fail to pay non-exempt employees overtime, or engage in other unlawful pay practices, employees have the right to file a lawsuit in state or federal court. Moreover, the FLSA and state laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who complain about unfair pay practices. If you have been fired for filing a wage and hour claim, you may have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Protection From Retaliation
The FLSA makes it unlawful for an employer to discharge, or to discriminate against in any way, an employee for filing a wage claim. The FLSA also protects employees who testify about an employer’s alleged wage violations in a legal proceeding. New York State law, as well as federal law, bars employers from retaliating or discriminating against an employee for filing a wage and hour claim, testifying in an investigation or proceeding, or exercising any legally protected right.
In short, any adverse employment action — firing, demoting, changing job titles/assignments — may be considered unlawful retaliation. These protections apply regardless of whether the complaint is informal or formal (verbal or in writing). This means that an employer cannot retaliate against an employee who complains to the employer directly, who files a claim with a government agency, or who files a lawsuit. An employer who is found to be in violation of these laws may be required to pay compensation and additional damages to the employee.
How to Prove Retaliation
If you believe you have been retaliated against for complaining about wages, you can file a lawsuit in state or federal court. To have a valid claim, you must be able to show that your employer fired you because of your wage complaint. Of course, it is unlikely that you will have direct evidence that your employer retaliated against you, such as statements or writings indicating that you were fired due to your complaint. Instead, we will look to present indirect evidence indicating a link between the adverse employment action and your compliant. If you were terminated shortly after you made the complaint, for example, it is more likely that retaliation was at play.
Damages You Can Recover in a Retaliation Claim
If your retaliation claim under the FLSA or applicable state law prevails, you may be awarded damages such as:
- Lost wages — if you were demoted or fired as a result of your complaint
- Out-of-pocket costs (e.g. the costs of a job search)
- Attorneys’ fees and legal costs
- Liquidated damages — an amount equal to your lost wages
- Emotional distress
Depending on the circumstances, you may also be awarded punitive damages which are designed to punish you employer’s unlawful conduct and to deter others from engaging in similar misconduct.
Call Our New York Wage and Hour Attorney
If you have been fired for complaining about wages, that’s the time to contact Lipsky Lowe, LLP. Our experienced wage and hour attorneys will conduct an extensive investigation to uncover evidence of your wrongful termination. We will look to obtain copies of your employment records, identify and interview witnesses, including former colleagues, supervisors, as well as your family and friends, and choose the best course of action.
Although we prefer to resolve retaliation claims through negotiations, we are equally comfortable in the courtroom. Above all, we will fight to help you obtain the compensation you deserve and see to that your reputation is restored. Remember, the sooner you contact us, the sooner we can assert your legal rights. Please contact our office today for a free evaluation of your case.