COVID-19 NY Employment Issues

Due to the ongoing pandemic, there are many COVID-19 NY employment issues that might require the services of an attorney. Employers who retain employees during COVID-19 have a duty to pay them. Likewise, employees who work long hours — such as commercial vehicle drivers — are entitled to overtime pay. If you are an employer or an employee in New York who needs help understanding your legal rights and obligations during COVID-19, please contact our office today. We are here to help.

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NY Employers’ Duty to Pay Employees When Closed

Even though  there is no duty for any employer to retain employees while New York  Governor Cuomo’s PAUSE Order remains in effect, employers who choose to retain employees, may have a duty to pay them.

To determine if you must pay your employees:

First, determine which employees are non-exempt employees and which are exempt:

  • Non-exempt employeesare employees who are covered by the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA). These employees are paid hourly for the time they have actually worked (and paid at an overtime rate for time worked over 40 hours in a work week).
  • Exempt employees are paid on a “salary basis” and are exempt from FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements because of the nature of their job requirements

Second, determine if your employees are performing any work while the PAUSE Order is in effect, either at the place of employment (if an essential business) or at home (if a non-essential business).

Working from home can include phone calls, e-mail, research, or COVID-19 related follow-up for the employer. Non-exempt employees must only be paid for the hours they worked. You need not pay them if they are not working.

If an exempt employee works for any part of the work week, he or she must be paid for the entire week. If an exempt employee does not perform any work for the entire work week, an employer may require the exempt employee to use their vacation or paid time off instead of paying the employee. However, if the employee has not worked the entire week and has no accrued paid time off, the employer is not required to pay the exempt employee’s salary.

United States Court of Appeals Unanimously Holds New York Truck Drivers are Entitled to Overtime Compensation Under the New York Labor Law

In Hayward v. IBI Armored Servs., Inc.. – F.3d –, 2020 WL 1647176 (2d. Cir., April 3, 2020), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned a decision from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of new York dismissing the overtime component of a claim for wage theft brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law. In the case, the lower court held that the Fair Labor Standard Act specifically made the Plaintiffs, truck drivers for an armored car business, ineligible for any overtime wages because of the motor carrier exemption. In overturning the district court, the Second Circuit emphasized that the New York Labor Law’s overtime-pay provision mandates that all employees be paid at an overtime rate of one and one-half times the minimum wage even if the employees fall within the motor carrier exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

This is a monumental decision, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, where truck drivers and other logistical employees are likely working longer hours to make sure supply chains remain intact and people have the supplies they need. There is an exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act which states an employee driving a truck in excess of 10,000.00 pounds is not entitled to overtime compensation. You can read more about the specifics of what exactly falls in the motor carrier exemption on the Department of Labor website. What this new Second Circuit decision means is that even New York truck drivers who fall within the motor carrier exemption precluding overtime at the rate of one and a half times their usual hourly rate are now entitled to overtime compensation at one and a half times the minimum wage for the State of New York.

If you or a loved one are working long hours as a New York truck driver and are not receiving overtime compensation please contact our office for a legal consultation.

COVID-19 NY Employment Issues