Often times I meet with clients who believe they have not been paid properly. Employees in New York are eligible to file claims against their current or former employers if they believe they are owed wages. The following blog will deal with some of the frequent questions that clients have about filing a claim for unpaid wages. As always this blog is not a substitute for legal advice rather it is meant as a starting point in helping to inform New York employees of their workplace rights. For legal advice tailored to your situation you should seriously consider meeting with an employment attorney who is experienced in representing employees in New York.
How does an employee in Rochester, New York file a wage/hour or labor standards claim?
If you believe your current or former employer owes you wages you can file a claim with the New York State Department of Labor. The wage claim form is available at: http://www.labor.state.ny.us/formsdocs/wp/ellsformsandpublications.shtm#Claim%20Forms. The Labor Department will investigate your claim and attempt to help you collect your wages. If that is unsuccessful, the Department can bring a court case on your behalf to recover the wages you are owed.
Does it cost anything to file a complaint?
There are no charges to file a complaint or for the New York State Department of Labor to conduct an investigation. The Department of Labor is a state agency and does not charge employees for its services.
What if workers at my job don’t speak English?
Some of the New York Labor Department staff are fluent in many languages. The Labor Department also has available a language interpretive service which can assist with translation in many languages.
Are there deadlines?
Do not delay in contacting the New York State Department of Labor to file a claim. There are strict time limits in which charges of wage-and-hour violations must be filed. It is not clear if there is a time deadline for filing a wage claim form with the Department of Labor, although the Department has six years within which to bring a legal action on your behalf. However, as you might have other legal claims with shorter deadlines, do not wait to file your claim until your time limit is close to expiring. You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, if possible. Yet if you are unable to find an attorney who will assist you, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file your claim with the Department.
How can I or my attorney pursue a claim in court in New York?
Instead of filing a claim with the New York State Department of Labor, you can file a claim in state court for unpaid wages as well. If you win your case, the court can award you the wages you are owed, an additional 100% (if the violation was willful), attorneys' fees, and litigation costs. The statute of limitations for bringing such a case is six years.
Labor Department Contact Information
You can e-mail the Labor Standards Division of the New York State Department of Labor at LSAsk@labor.state.ny.us.
The Rochester district office of the New York State Department of Labor
109 South Union Street -Rochester, NY 14607
Tel. (585) 258-4550
Fax (585) 258-4556