New York Home Healthcare Workers Attorneys and Resources
In New York, home healthcare workers, also known as home health workers or personal care aides, provide in-home care and support for seniors and people with disabilities.
New York home healthcare workers have protections under federal, New York state, and New York City laws. These laws guarantee minimum wage and overtime, protect home healthcare workers from discrimination and retaliation, and grant other legal protections. The laws covering home healthcare workers can be complicated. Contact a New York employment lawyer to learn if your rights have been violated.
Know Your Rights
As of 2015, the Fair Labor Standards Act applies to home healthcare workers. This means that home healthcare workers must receive the federal minimum wage and overtime protections. At the state and city level, home care workers receive a higher minimum wage.
In addition to compensation protections, home healthcare workers have protections against discrimination and retaliation.
These rights apply to all New York home healthcare workers regardless of immigration status.
Immigration status does not change the legal rights of a home healthcare worker. All workers have the right to file a claim for unpaid wages, overtime, or workplace discrimination.
It is also illegal for employers to seize your passport or any other identifying documents.
Minimum Wage Protections for New York Home Healthcare Workers
Home healthcare workers must earn the minimum wage, and they are eligible for overtime, breaks, and paid time off.
While the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, the minimum wage in New York state is $10.40 for 2018. In New York City, the minimum wage depends on the size of your employer. Employers with ten or fewer employees must pay a $12.00 per hour minimum wage, while employers with eleven or more employees must pay $13.00 an hour. These numbers are set to increase every year for New York state.
In New York City, many home healthcare workers work for agencies. As a result, the employees should earn $13.00 an hour. Earning less than minimum wage is a form of wage theft.
New York state’s Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, passed in 2010, guarantees all domestic workers, including home care providers, at least the state minimum wage.
In New York, home healthcare workers can receive overtime pay. However, the overtime rules vary based on whether you live in your workplace or not.
Care providers who do not live in their workplace are entitled to be paid one and a half times their regular hourly rate for all hours worked over 40 in a week.
Care providers who are live-in workers must receive one and a half times their regular hourly rate for all hours worked over 44 in a week. The law defines a live-in worker as one who lives in the private home of the person receiving services, either on a permanent basis or for “extended periods of time” (typically working and sleeping there five days a week) or for five consecutive days or nights.
Overtime hours are calculated on a weekly basis, i.e., for a consecutive seven-day work period, even if pay periods are two weeks or longer. Employers cannot average hours worked in multiple weeks to deny overtime pay.
Compared with other professions, New York home healthcare workers are more likely to work shifts of 24 hours or more that include sleep time. Employers who do not pay sleep time for workers legally allowed this time are guilty of wage theft.
However, employers can deduct up to eight hours of sleep time for each night if all three of the following requirements are met:
- There is a written agreement between the employee and the employer that sleep time will not be paid.
- The worker receives adequate sleeping accommodations.
- The worker is able to get an uninterrupted night of sleep.
If the home care worker cannot get at least five hours of consecutive sleep, he or she must be paid for the full eight hours of sleeping time.
Breaks and Paid Time Off
Home healthcare workers are entitled to an unpaid meal break of at least 30 minutes when they work for six or more hours.
New York state law also provides home care workers three days of paid time off per year, and New York City provides an additional 2 days of paid time off. Home healthcare workers qualify for these protections after one year of employment.
Employees can also negotiate more paid time off and break time directly with employers.
Discrimination and Sexual Harassment
The New York state Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights extends the state’s Human Rights Law to all domestic workers, regardless of the number of employees. Even home healthcare workers who are the only worker employed by the household have protections against sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender, race, religion, national origin, or any other protected category.
Sexual harassment violates the laws protecting home healthcare workers. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, and requests for sexual favors.
It is also illegal for an employer, supervisor, or coworker to harass you because you are a member of a protected group. Creating a hostile, intimidating, or threatening work environment is against the law.
New York law protects home care workers from sexual harassment and harassment. However, protections against discrimination in hiring and firing only apply if your employer has four or more employees. If you work for an agency, your employer cannot fire, refuse to hire, or withhold benefits based on your race, religion, sex, age, national origin, or any other protected reason.
It is against the law for your employer to retaliate against you if you stand up for your legal rights. This includes complaining to your employer about wrongful pay, filing a claim against your employer, or participating in an investigation as a witness.
Retaliation can include firing or suspending an employee, a reduction in hours or pay, threats of deportation, or forcing an employee to reverify their employment authorization.
It is also illegal for employers to retaliate against undocumented workers by threatening to contact the police or ICE. Undocumented workers may qualify for immigration relief as a result of employer retaliation.
Home healthcare workers who have been the victims of retaliation may be able to recover their jobs or any lost wages and benefits by filing a retaliation complaint.
Filing a Complaint
New York home healthcare workers have legal protections. If your employer has withheld wages or refused to pay overtime, you can file a claim with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division or the New York Department of Labor’s Division of Labor Standards. These departments can investigate and order back wages from your employer. They can also file a lawsuit on your behalf for back pay and damages.
If you have faced discrimination or sexual harassed, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the New York State Division of Human Rights, or the New York City Human Rights Commission.
If your rights have been violated, you can also file a lawsuit in court. Reach out for a free consultation with a New York employment lawyer.