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This entry was published on 2019-11-01
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SECTION 215
Penalties and civil action; prohibited retaliation
Labor (LAB) CHAPTER 31, ARTICLE 7
§ 215. Penalties and civil action; prohibited retaliation. 1. (a) No
employer or his or her agent, or the officer or agent of any
corporation, partnership, or limited liability company, or any other
person, shall discharge, threaten, penalize, or in any other manner
discriminate or retaliate against any employee (i) because such employee
has made a complaint to his or her employer, or to the commissioner or
his or her authorized representative, or to the attorney general or any
other person, that the employer has engaged in conduct that the
employee, reasonably and in good faith, believes violates any provision
of this chapter, or any order issued by the commissioner (ii) because
such employer or person believes that such employee has made a complaint
to his or her employer, or to the commissioner or his or her authorized
representative, or to the attorney general, or to any other person that
the employer has violated any provision of this chapter, or any order
issued by the commissioner (iii) because such employee has caused to be
instituted or is about to institute a proceeding under or related to
this chapter, or (iv) because such employee has provided information to
the commissioner or his or her authorized representative or the attorney
general, or (v) because such employee has testified or is about to
testify in an investigation or proceeding under this chapter, or (vi)
because such employee has otherwise exercised rights protected under
this chapter, or (vii) because the employer has received an adverse
determination from the commissioner involving the employee.

An employee complaint or other communication need not make explicit
reference to any section or provision of this chapter to trigger the
protections of this section.

As used in this section, to threaten, penalize, or in any other manner
discriminate or retaliate against any employee includes threatening to
contact or contacting United States immigration authorities or otherwise
reporting or threatening to report an employee's suspected citizenship
or immigration status or the suspected citizenship or immigration status
of an employee's family or household member, as defined in subdivision
two of section four hundred fifty-nine-a of the social services law, to
a federal, state or local agency.

(b) If after investigation the commissioner finds that an employer or
person has violated any provision of this section, the commissioner may,
by an order which shall describe particularly the nature of the
violation, assess the employer or person a civil penalty of not less
than one thousand nor more than ten thousand dollars provided, however,
that if the commissioner finds that the employer has violated the
provisions of this section in the preceding six years, he or she may
assess a civil penalty of not less than one thousand nor more than
twenty thousand dollars. The commissioner may also order all appropriate
relief including enjoining the conduct of any person or employer;
ordering payment of liquidated damages to the employee by the person or
entity in violation; and, where the person or entity in violation is an
employer ordering rehiring or reinstatement of the employee to his or
her former position or an equivalent position, and an award of lost
compensation or an award of front pay in lieu of reinstatement and an
award of lost compensation. Liquidated damages shall be calculated as an
amount not more than twenty thousand dollars. The commissioner may
assess liquidated damages on behalf of every employee aggrieved under
this section, in addition to any other remedies permitted by this
section.

(c) This section shall not apply to employees of the state or any
municipal subdivisions or departments thereof.

2. (a) An employee may bring a civil action in a court of competent
jurisdiction against any employer or persons alleged to have violated
the provisions of this section. The court shall have jurisdiction to
restrain violations of this section, within two years after such
violation, regardless of the dates of employment of the employee, and to
order all appropriate relief, including enjoining the conduct of any
person or employer; ordering payment of liquidated damages, costs and
reasonable attorneys' fees to the employee by the person or entity in
violation; and, where the person or entity in violation is an employer,
ordering rehiring or reinstatement of the employee to his or her former
position with restoration of seniority or an award of front pay in lieu
of reinstatement, and an award of lost compensation and damages, costs
and reasonable attorneys' fees. Liquidated damages shall be calculated
as an amount not more than twenty thousand dollars. The court shall
award liquidated damages to every employee aggrieved under this section,
in addition to any other remedies permitted by this section. The statute
of limitations shall be tolled from the date an employee files a
complaint with the commissioner or the commissioner commences an
investigation, whichever is earlier, until an order to comply issued by
the commissioner becomes final, or where the commissioner does not issue
an order, until the date on which the commissioner notifies the
complainant that the investigation has concluded. Investigation by the
commissioner shall not be a prerequisite to nor a bar against a person
bringing a civil action under this section.

(b) At or before the commencement of any action under this section,
notice thereof shall be served upon the attorney general by the
employee.

3. Any employer or his or her agent, or the officer or agent of any
corporation, partnership, or limited liability company, or any other
person who violates subdivision one of this section shall be guilty of a
class B misdemeanor.