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This week, employees of “Cake Man,” a celebrity baker in Brooklyn, filed an overtime pay lawsuit in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The lawsuit claims that 15 employees are owed at least a half million dollars in overtime pay over a six year period.
The obligation to pay overtime under New York law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act is absolute. An employer does not satisfy its obligation to pay time and a half for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek by rewarding employees with bonuses. Yet, that appears to be precisely what many employers, particularly smaller ones, do.

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Effective July 24, 2008, the federal minimum wage increased from $5.85 per hour to $6.55 per hour. The federal minimum wage is still lower than the minimum wage required under New York law. New York requires that employers pay a minimum wage of $7.15. Accordingly, employees must still be paid the higher minimum wage in order for employers to comply with New York law.

The federal minimum wage is set to increase again on July 24, 2009 to $7.25 per hour. Assuming there are no further increases to New York’s minimum wage, employers will be required to pay this higher amount to their employees. Indeed, the New York minimum wage is automatically replaced by the federal minimum wage if the latter is higher than New York’s minimum.
For more information concerning minimum wage and overtime, please visit our website.

Under the American Disabilities Act (ADA), it is a violation of an employee’s federally protected rights for an employer not to make reasonable accommodations for known physical or mental limitations of an employee, or job applicant, who is otherwise a qualified individual. 29 C.F.R. § 1630.9(a). The ADA requires that an employer engage in an interactive process with an employee to determine the extent of a reasonable accommodation that will permit an employee to perform the essential functions of a job. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently ruled in Brady v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. that an employer’s duty to make a reasonable accommodation is triggered when it knows or has reason to know that an employee suffers from a disability, and not just when an employee provides notice of a disability or requests an accommodation. The Second Circuit covers New York, Vermont and Connecticut.

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