Rodriguez Law, P.C. Supports Anti-Wage Theft Bill Doubling Liquidated Damages in New York

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A largely unnoticed bill pending before the New York State Assembly would double the amount of liquidated damages owed by an employer found guilty of wage theft to 200%. If passed, the bill would be a great victory for labor and immigrant rights advocates and send a clear message from Albany that wage theft is not tolerated, states Argilio Rodriguez, a New York employment lawyer at Rodriguez Law, P.C.

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Bill No. 2499...would send a clear message from the New York State Legislature that employers will suffer dearly for their failure to pay employees’ wages.

The New York State Assembly is considering a proposed amendment to Labor Law § 198 that would significantly increase the amount of liquidated damages that an employer must pay for failure to pay employees’ wages under certain situations as required by law.

On January 15, 2013, Annette Robinson, an Assembly Member representing District 56, which includes most of Bedford-Stuyvesant, introduced New York Assembly Bill No. 2499. If passed, the bill would amend New York Labor Law § 198, effectively doubling the amount of liquidated damages due in a wage theft dispute from one hundred percent (100%) to two hundred percent (200%) where the failure to pay wages (1) persisted for more than thirty days, or (2) involved ten or more employees.

In way of example, if an employee was owed $10,000 in wages, under the proposed bill, the employer would be liable for up to $30,000, thereby sending a clear message from the New York State Legislature that employers will suffer dearly for their failure to pay employees’ wages and should resolve wage disputes immediately, states Argilio Rodriguez, a New York employment lawyer at Rodriguez Law, P.C.

The bill should provide greater incentives for employers to immediately resolve wage disputes with their employees. If passed, the bill would solidify New York’s place as a leader in protecting the rights of laborers and immigrants.

Under the current version of Labor Law § 198, an employer must pay liquidated damages to an employee who receives less than the full wage to which he or she is entitled. The amount of the liquidated damages cannot exceed one hundred percent (100%) of the total amount of wages due to the employee.

The proposed bill would mark the second time in two years in which the New York State Legislature has sought to increase penalties against employers for failure to pay wages. New York’s Wage Theft Prevention Act (the “WTPA”), which took effect on April 9, 2011, amended Labor Law § 198 to quadruple the liquidated damages provision from twenty-five percent (25%) to the current one hundred percent (100%) of the total unpaid wages due to the employee.

Bill No. 2499 is presently before the Assembly’s Committee on Labor. If passed, the proposed amendment will go into effect ninety days after it becomes a law.

About Argilio Rodriguez

Argilio Rodriguez is the founder of Rodriguez Law, P.C., a New York City based labor & employment law firm. He is a vocal advocate of labor and immigrant rights. Rodriguez Law seeks to level the playing field by representing victims of fraud and abusive practices, prosecuting large scale, high-impact cases, and educating our clients in the areas of business & commercial litigation, labor & employment law, criminal defense, civil rights, and class actions.

For more information about Rodriguez Law, P.C., please visit http://www.lawrodriguez.com.

To read more about New York Assembly Bill No. 2499, please visit the New York State Assembly website at http://assembly.state.ny.us/ and conduct a “quick bill search” using “A2499”.

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