First Analysis of Minimum Wage Increases Show Economic Promise

February 19, 2015–  Much of the debate surrounding an increase in the Minimum Wage is whether, or not, it will positively impact the U.S. economy. The initial analysis of the impact of the increases in over 20 states, which was written about in this column last month*, appears to indicate it has had a positive impact on the overall economic picture, albeit small.

Economists reported an, overall, increase in Labor force wages by .045%, in January, partially due to the substantial commitment of a number of states to these hourly wage increases. Morgan Stanley reported that 1.5% of the workforce was impacted by the increases in 21 states.  While this percentage is, actually, substantial it did not have a greater positive result on the economy because the increases in wages, themselves, were not substantial enough to have an impact when spread out over the entire wage pool.

Further commentary by leading economists seems to indicate that the economy was also helped by a continued increase in the number of laborers in the workforce. The Department of Labor reported the biggest three (3) month increase in 17 years, possibly, ending a trend towards months of alternating progress and set backs. There were no indications, whatsoever, that in the markets where wages were increased that the increases in hourly wage lead to layoffs, contractions, decreased profitability, or corporate re-locations as compared to jurisdictions with lower hourly wages.

There does seem to be a building forward momentum in the economy and the job sector. This increase in opportunities will continue to thin the unemployment ranks and should have a natural inclination to raise wages in the marketplace as competition heats up. The lurking danger is that as new higher paying Managerial opportunities are created they will have the tendency to demonstrate net increases in the wage pool figures and these increases may be used by opponents of mandated minimum wage increases as justification that such legislation is not needed.

What is needed as the economy continues to evolve and emerge from the Great Recession is an isolated, detailed analysis of workers and wages at the minimum wage level. By applying this analysis the most needy sectors of the workforce will not suffer from having their stagnation masked by members of the workforce on the more affluent segment of the labor force.

Yet to see an increase in your pay rate after the minimum wage increase? If you are making less than the state minimum wage in New York, contact the wage attorneys at Neil H. Greenberg and Associates for a consultation at 866-546-4752.

*To view the article written in this column last month, click here.

Amazon Workers Fight For Fair Pay?

October 16, 2014-Most of the American public is familiar with the internet marketplace known as Amazon.com.  What most people didn’t know until last week was that Amazon.com employees are required to pass through mandatory security checkpoints, after their shifts.  This mandatory protocol often delays their departure from work, by an average of,  30 minutes per day.  This procedure was put into place due to significant company financial losses, which Amazon alleges, is the result of, out of control, employee theft.  Employees, as a matter of practice, clock out from work, daily, and then line up to pass through secure check points similar to those utilized at the major airports throughout the country.

Now those same employees have filed a series of lawsuits against Amazon, claiming that the time spent administering these security procedures should be considered part of their employment. Furthermore, they are demanding they be paid up until the point that they have completed their security inspections.  They have alleged that Amazon has violated Labor Laws by requiring them to adhere to these practices, without the benefit of pay.  They are seeking back pay, as well as a change in policy.  Amazon has fired back, vigorously defending the suit on several legal grounds, but more significantly, highlighting the irony that employee behavior, as a class, necessitated the costly procedures be implemented in the first place.

At the heart of the matter will be a legal interpretation of the 1947 amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act.  The U.S. Supreme Court will look at the facts, in question, and decide whether the security checkpoints set up by Amazon, and other major companies dealing with employee theft, constitute “integral and indispensable” components of what the workers were paid, by the employer, to do.  The classic example cited by the employees is that employers, such as butchers, are required, by law, to pay for the time their employees spend sharpening their tools, as integral to their job.   They liken the checkpoint requirement to this scenario.  In contrast, employers are not legally required to pay employees for their travel time to and from work.  Amazon relies on this premise in defense of its position that the security checkpoint is akin to the ride home.

Whose interpretation is correct?  The parties, and the public, will soon discover.  While this case involves one company, Amazon.com, the results may significant consequences on the finances of many U.S. companies.  The additional expense of increased base wages, plus the, potential, impact on overtime wages could lead to increased consumer prices, or a decrease in hiring, or, although, highly unlikely, a dismantling of the security checkpoints, entirely, as more cost prohibitive than the theft they are trying to eliminate.

If you, or someone you know, is the victim of wage violations or is owed back pay, please contact the New York Employment Attorneys at Neil H. Greenberg & Associates.  Our attorneys will help you to fight labor violations and get compensation for your work.  Call us today at 516-228-5100!

 

Ask Not For Whom The Overtime Bell Tolls, For It May Now Be Tolling For Thee

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It is probably safe to say that well paid employees who have earned prestigious employment titles and are receiving weekly salaries believe themselves NOT to be entitled to over-time pay.  Similarly, their employers feel confident that the weekly salary is all the compensation these employees are entitled to receive. That is to say that the employers have taken comfort in labeling these employees as being exempt from overtime by relying on what is commonly known as the “administrative exception.” However, as recent cases have illuminated, many employers may be in for a rude awakening, these employees may be owed substantial back overtime wages.

Most recently, on November 20, 2009 the United States Court Of Appeals For The Second Circuit decided the case of Davis v. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.  The Davis case is a class action seeking overtime wages for a group of employees known as “underwriters.” 

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