Wage Theft Protection Act Signed Into Law

 

Law protects workers from unethical treatment in the workplace

The Wage Theft Prevention Act (S8380 / A11726), sponsored by Senator Diane J. Savino (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn), was signed into law today by Governor David A. Paterson. This new law will effectively expand workplace rights of employees by requiring employers not only to provide employees with necessary wage information, but put in place sanctions for employers who fail to properly pay their workers full earned wages and overtime.

“They say that New York is the safest big city in the world. Tell that to the thousands of New Yorkers who are robbed each week by their employers,” Senator Savino said. “For too long, penalties for employers who steal or underpay their workers have been so low, that it was simply the cost of doing business. This practice has hurt hard-working New Yorkers, it’s put honest businesses at a competitive disadvantage, and has robbed millions of dollars in revenues from our fiscally strapped state and local governments.”

Studies indicate that a large number of employees are earning less than state-mandated minimum wage in New York, are being paid less than their correct wage and are not receiving the appropriate amount of overtime compensation. Employers often take advantage of employees by not informing them of what their wages are and how they are calculated. Also, past sanctions on employers found in violation were not strong enough, nor enforced properly, and therefore failed to deter employers from such discriminatory conduct.

Senator Savino continued, “Today’s signing of the Wage Theft Prevention Act has sent a message to the thousands of workers who are simply trying to provide for their families—New York is a much safer place now. I commend Assemblyman Carl Heastie, the bill sponsor in the Assembly, Governor Paterson for his support of the bill, and most of all, the organizers of Make the Road New York, who's hard work and dedication made this legislation possible."

The new law will require annual notifications of wages (as well as expansion of these notifications), increase the availability of remedies for wage law violations and create stronger whistleblower protections. Moreover, the law will enforce stricter sanctions on employers who fail to provide employees with proper compensation for their work.

The Wage Theft Prevention Act:

  • Enacts more stringent and transparent record-keeping and employer notification requirements on all employers;  
  • Increases the amount of wages that can be recovered as damages in a suit for non-payment over and above the lost wages themselves - from 25 percent to 100 percent, the amount allowable under Federal law;  
  • Creates stronger collection tools;  
  • Raises criminal penalties for failure to pay minimum wage to up to a year in prison and $5,000 fine.
  • Strengthens protections for whistleblowers in cases involving wage violations.