New York Attorney Helps Hurricane Cleanup Workers Cleanup their Unpaid Overtime

In the wake of monster storm Hurricane Sandy that inflicted massive damage on New York City, many workers stepped up to perform the demanding work of cleaning up so that the rebuilding process could begin.  As in so many other similar disaster recovery situations, including Hurricanes Katrina (Louisiana) and Ike (Texas), some workers who put in long hours to perform this difficult and sometimes dangerous work were taken advantage of and not paid the overtime wages that they are legally entitled to. Under both N.Y. labor laws and federal law, employers are required to pay all non-exempt workers time and a half for all hours worked in excess of 40 per week. In this case, the workers were hired by a public works contractor (and its subcontractors) to perform recovery work at several New York City Hospitals and were paid a straight hourly rate ranging from $10 to $12 per hour for all hours worked, with no overtime premium for the hours worked over 40 each week.  Additionally, the hourly rate they were paid fell below the required prevailing wage rates. As we have seen after other natural disasters, these types of laborers put in many hours of mandatory overtime for months on end – sometime working 7 days a week and 80 to 100 hours per week, racking up substantial amounts of underpaid overtime wages. With the number of hours being worked, it does not take long for the amount of unpaid overtime to reach into the $1,000s or even $10,000s for each individual laborer. These particular workers recovered back wages totaling more than $500,000. Once the crush of the initial work is over and most workers exhausted, some will typically start to question the way they were compensated – was it fair, was it legal…?  Very commonly the answer is NO, but all too often nothing is done about it because nobody steps up to assert a claim for unpaid overtime under either the federal or New York overtime pay laws that protect their fair pay rights. While claims are sometimes pursued via the New York Department of Labor, in the vast majority of instances where a claim is brought on behalf of workers, it is done by a private lawyer retained by one or more workers (on a contingent fee basis) to recover their unpaid overtime wages and any additional damages that they may be entitled to, such as “liquidated damages” that can double the value of their recovery (ie recover $200 for every $100 of unpaid overtime due). Because of the strict time limits imposed by the federal and N.Y. overtime pay laws, procrastination can be costly.  If you have any doubts as to your entitlement to overtime, contact the overtime pay experts at The Lore Law Firm for a free and confidential review. Call 1-866-559-0400, email mlore@overtime-flsa.com or submit your information using our convenient Case Evaluation form for a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL review of your circumstances, because time is money.