Know Your Rights

What is the law about discrimination on the job?
  • In New York, it is illegal to discriminate against workers based on age, race, religion, skin color, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, military status, gender, disability, marital status, genetic predisposition, or family status.
Does my boss have the right to retaliate against me for organizing?
  • If you attempt to organize your workplace or if you complain about labor law violations, and your boss takes revenge against you, your boss is breaking the law.
  • For example, if you file a wage & hour lawsuit or Dept. of Labor complaint, or if you try to organize your workplace, the boss cannot lower your hours or wages, make your work more, threaten you, ask you questions about your case or union campaign, or fire you.
Do I have the right to organize on the job?

Yes. The most important right every worker has is the right to organize.

  • This right protects workers who attempt to organize in order to improve their workplaces. Under this protection, you have the right to:
    • Get together with your fellow workers to talk about the conditions of your work.
    • Meet with your boss to demand better working conditions.
    • Distribute flyers outside of your workplace informing the public of the conditions you are working under.
    • Organize a union at your workplace.
  • If you demand that your boss improve the terms and conditions of employment for yourself and your fellow workers, get together with your fellow workers to discuss the terms and conditions of your work, pass informational leaflets outside your place of work, or try to form a union, the boss cannot legally fire you!
What records does the boss have to keep and provide me?
  • The boss has to give you a wage notice when you begin a new job, and then he must provide you with a new one on February of each year. The boss must obtian your signature on this notice, and provide you with a copy. The wage notice must include:
    • Your name and the date
    • The employer’s corporate name and d/b/a
    • Your hourly rate
    • Your overtime rate
    • Any deductions

  • The boss also has the obligation to provide you with wage statements with each payment of wages. The wage statements must also include this information.

  • All of the information on these records must be accurate and true! Otherwise, your boss is violating your rights and breaking the law.
Do I have a right to take breaks from work?
  • If your work over 6 hours in shift, the boss has to give you at least 30 minutes for you to take a break away from the workplace. The boss does not have to compensate you for this time.
  • If you are only permitted to take a 20 minute or less break, the boss must pay for that break time.
Do undocumented workers have rights on the job?


  • Every person has rights under New York and Federal labor laws, regardless of immigration status.
  • Every person has the same right to access the judicial system in order to exercise his or her labor rights by commencing law suits under state or federal labor laws.
  • This means that every single person has right to be paid minimum and overtime wages, the right to organize, and the right not to be discriminated against at work.
What is the minimum wage law in New York?
  • By law, your boss MUST pay you AT LEAST $8 per hour for the first 40 hours you work each week.
  • Your boss has to tell you how much you earn PER HOUR. If your boss tells you you earn a weekly salary, he or she is probably breaking the labor laws.
  • To find out your hourly rate, divide the amount you earn per week by the hours you actually work. Remember to use the actual hours you work – not the hours written on the schedule posted by your boss or any wage statements.
What is the overtime law in New York?
  • Your boss has to tell you how much you are earning per hour in overtime, which means each hour you work in excess of 40 in a workweek. This number has to be equivalent to 1.5 times your regular hourly rate.
  • Example: If you work 60 hours per week, your boss has to pay you at least $8 per hour for the first 40 hours, and then $12 per hour for the next 20 hours.
  • It is mandatory that your boss pay overtime! The most common labor law violation is the failure to pay overtime wages.
What are the rights for tip workers?
  • The tip minimum wage is $5 per hour.
  • If more than 20% of your work is non-tipped (such as cleaning, dishwashing, etc.), the boss has to pay you at least minimum wage ($8 per hour) for all hours worked.
  • Typically, “tipped jobs” include waiters and bartenders.
  • Normally, delivery personnel are not considered tipped employees.
Is there a law for pay day?
  • Your boss has to pay you regularly and on time.
  • Your boss has to pay you every week, or in some cases, every two weeks.
Is my boss allowed to take deductions out of my wages?

It depends.

  • The boss has the right to deduct from your wages taxes or other deductions “for the benefit of the employee.”
  • Before taking a deduction, however, your boss has to get your authorization in writing.
  • Your boss may not make deductions from your wages as punishment for damaged food or equipment
  • Your boss may not make deductions for the employee’s use of tools necessary for work. (For example: If you need a bicycle of telephone for your job, your boss has to pay for them – he or she cannot make you pay for these tools.)