2010-12-17 / Top Stories

Paterson Signs Wage Theft Prevention Act

Governor David A. Paterson has signed into law S.8380/A.11726, the Wage Theft Prevention Act, which addresses the failure by employers to pay statutorily-mandated minimum wages and overtime by requiring annual notifications of wages, expanding notifications, enhancing available remedies for wage law violations and strengthening whistleblower protections. The Governor also announced that he has acted on ten additional bills.

“At a time when so many New Yorkers are living paycheck to paycheck, it is vital that we protect the right to receive their hard-earned pay and afford them every protection against wage theft,” Paterson said. “I am proud to sign this legislation, which will combat misconduct by unscrupulous employers who fail to pay statutorily mandated minimum wages and overtime. I commend the bill’s sponsors, Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Carl Heastie, for their efforts in securing passage of this bill.”

The bill would enact a wide-ranging series of measures to provide information to workers on the wages they are owed, and to heighten sanctions on those who fail to pay their workers the compensation to which they are entitled. The Wage Theft Prevention Act:

• Enacts more stringent and transparent record-keeping and employee notification requirements.

• 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; and

• Strengthens protections for whistleblowers in cases involving wage violations.

Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson said, “For decades, employees have seen their wages and overtime pay unfairly withheld by some unethical employers, and they have had little legal recourse. Fortunately, this legislation will change that and it will have a significant impact during this tough economic period. I applaud bill sponsors Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Carl Heastie for this important effort to ensure those who work get paid, fairly and equitably.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “Denying workers their wages violates the worker-employer principles that are the lifeline of our economy. This legislation protects against wage theft by expanding the rights of workers to recover the wages owed to them, and it cracks down on violators with tougher statutory measures. I commend Assemblyman Carl Heastie, the bill’s sponsor, for his commitment to fight wage theft practices and protect the rights of workers.”

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