SPEAK UP: FEAR AND WAGE RIGHTS ISSUES
October 10, 2015
There are all kinds of possible wage rights violations, but there are almost as many excuses employees make for not taking action when an employer violates those wage rights. Some people are non-confrontational and want to avoid a fight. Others don’t want to seem greedy for pursuing more money. However, by far the most common reason workers neglect to fight for their own wage rights is the fear of retaliation, which we discussed in a recent Video FAQ.
We get it — jobs are not easy to come by. Who can afford to be job hunting for weeks, months, or perhaps even longer when you have bills to pay and mouths to feed? The general line of thinking for far too many workers is that some unpaid overtime wages are not worth losing one’s job over. Thus, they remain silent and perpetuate a vicious cycle that emboldens employers to continue their illicit wage practices based entirely on a false belief — that it is okay for a worker to be fired for speaking up against an employer’s illegal wage practices.
Often it may feel like your employer is the one with all the power, when in fact, you are the one with the law on your side. All you need is a team of lawyers who know how to enforce those rights for you! Certainly, you are always legally entitled to be paid the proper amount of wages for all of the work you do, but you are also legally entitled to take action when those rights are violated without fear of reprisal or retaliation.
New York may be an at-will employment state, but that doesn’t mean employers can fire you for absolutely anything. The law prohibits employers from retaliating against their employees for taking action to defend their rights, such as making a harassment or discrimination complaint, or attempting to recover unpaid wages.
Additionally, the definition of “retaliation” not only includes firing an employee, but also taking any sort of negative actions against them in the workplace as a direct result of a complaint or other action, such as demoting them or taking away benefits. Any form of retaliation that your employer takes against you for pursuing a wage claim would give you an additional claim for which you could potentially recover damages in court. Better yet, because these anti-retaliation laws exist, the lawyers at AndersonDodson, P.C. have been able to prevent the retaliation from happening in the first place, or to quickly nip it in the bud when it does happen.
When you neglect to speak up against wage violations for fear of retaliation, all you are doing is encouraging your employer to continue breaking the law and stealing your hard-earned wages. The law is on your side when it comes to fighting back against illegal wage practices, and you have a right and a duty to stand up for yourself. Let us at AndersonDodson stand up with you to recover your underpaid wages and minimize the disruption to your life when you make the choice to do so.