There are over 38,000 restaurants in New York State, and a sizable portion of them are probably committing some violation of the wage and hour laws everyday. Waiterpay is intended to promote awareness about the wage and hour laws in New York so that employees and restaurant owners alike have a greater understanding of their respective rights and obligations.
Why are violations of the labor laws so rampant in the restaurant industry? First, there is the cash element to the business. Where there is cash, games are played. Second, many undocumented immigrants work in the kitchens and dining rooms of the restaurant industry. Some employers mistakenly believe that the undocumented status of their employees exempts them from complying with the law. Third, the restaurant industry is competitive and unforgiving to owners who cannot maintain service and quality. Unfortunately, some restaurants seek to increase their profit margins by denying employees the compensation they are due. Finally, there is an extraordinarily complicated set of laws governing the payment of restaurant employees. Even lawyers and accountants who are supposed to guide restaurants are often confused by the legal requirements. Taken together, these factors create an ideal recipe for violations of the law.
In my law practice, we have represented hundreds of restaurant workers, as well as numerous restaurants, in wage and hour disputes. We have recovered over twenty-five million dollars in back wages and damages for restaurant workers. The number of restaurants that are oblivious to or simply turn a blind eye to legal requirements with regard to overtime, spread of hours pay, treatment of tips, and other basic laws is simply staggering. The two laws that govern the pay of restaurant workers in New York are the Fair Labor Standards Act, a federal law, and the New York Labor Law, a state law. We have included in this website resource materials and links which describe these two laws and their application to the pay of restaurant workers.
Readers of waiterpay.com should keep in mind that this site addresses the specific state law in New York, and that the law in other states may be significantly different. Moreover, although this website publicizes legal rights and requirements, please understand that we are not giving legal advice – you must retain an attorney if you want legal advice.