What to do if I worked in a restaurant and they refused to put me on the books and they refused to pay me?

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What to do if I worked in a restaurant and they refused to put me on the books and they refused to pay me?

I was recently working as a busboy/barback in a sports barwhere I endured a number of unfair practices and I want to know what is legal and what isn’t. When I did my training shift, I was told that when I started, I would be getting $6.50 an hour +tips. I worked there for a month in total (about 21 shifts) since the beginning I had asked about getting my W4 filled out and getting put on the books, and every time the manager didn’t have time. They wouldn’t put me on the books and they never paid me anything for my month.

Asked on September 29, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you did the work, you must be paid; you have to be paid the agreed upon wage or at least minimum wage, whichever is greater, though if you received tips, they can be used as an offset against minimum wage.

You have two choices for how to proceed: you can contact the state department of labor and see if they will investigate this matter and take action for you. They may, and if they do, it costs you nothing; but they may also be too busy to get to a comparatively small matter, involving only one employee.

You can sue the bar for the money they owe you, either on your own (acting as your own attorney, or pro se) or with a lawyer. You'd need to prove that you did the work and what the terms of employment were; you can use your own testimony, thought if that's all you have and the other side has at least as much, if not more evidence, it may not be enough.


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