Although wage theft is a crime under both state and federal law, violators rarely face imprisonment. That is why the Heiferman & Associates team, and other employment lawyers in the New York City area, still talk about a case from a few years ago that saw a local restaurant owner thrown in jail for short-changing his employees.
Paying Straight Time Lead Straight To Jail
Abdul Jamil Khokhar was sentenced to 60 days behind bars after he got caught paying the workers in his Papa John’s franchises “straight time” wages even when they worked more than 40 hours a week. He had attempted to hide this practice by doctoring his books. He created fictitious names for employees to use in their computerized timekeeping system so it looked like nobody was working overtime.
When he got caught, Khokhar was required to pay his workers the money he owed them, and fined for his misdeeds, which is what typically happens in these cases. What was surprising was the government’s insistence that he also be locked up.
Oftentimes, wage theft is treated more like a civil offense even though it is a serious crime. However, as Khokhar’s case reminded everyone, jail time is a possibility. At Heiferman & Associates, our employment lawyers are well-positioned to represent both employees and employers in wage theft cases. Our experience as criminal defense attorneys, combined with our financial and accounting backgrounds means we are ready to take action as soon as our client becomes aware wage theft has occurred or is alleged.
What Is Wage Theft?
There are many different things that can be classified as “wage theft.”
Mr. Khokhar was charged with wage theft because he failed to pay his employees overtime, and went to great lengths to hide his crimes. Failure to pay overtime is a common form of wage theft. Under New York Labor Law (“NYLL”) and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), most employees must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay.
Wage theft can also include a failure to pay the minimum wage, tip skimming, bounced checks, or late checks. The FLSA and New York Labor Law want employees to get paid all the money they are owed at the time they are owed it. Anything else can be considered wage theft.
Disputes over vacation days, bonuses, breaks, and scheduling may also be considered wage theft because benefits are a non-cash form of payment.
Our firm represents employees and employers in New York and New Jersey in cases where all forms of wage theft may have occurred. Because we have work for both employers and employees, we know what it takes to get these cases resolved quickly and fairly so everyone can move on with their lives. We represent clients in state and federal courts as well as administrative agencies including but not limited to the EEOC, NY DHR, NJ DCR, NY/NJ Departments of Labor and more. We also can provide employers with audits of their business practices to avoid unnecessary litigation.
Experience You Can Trust
If you are considering filing or fighting a wage theft claim, let’s talk. The Heiferman & Associates team of employment attorneys has over 20 years of experience litigating cases, so you can trust us to quickly and efficiently resolve your case. You can contact us today to get the wheels of justice turning.