Our Award Winning New York Employment Lawyer has been asked to discuss amendments to the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA) which will go into effect later this week on February 27, 2015. It is important for employees and employers to understand the changes and how they impact their workplaces. In general, the WTPA was created to protect workers and prevent employers from failing to paying wages. The WTPA required employers to provide written notices to each employee every year between January and February and at the time of hire or upon certain changes in an employment role. Under the WTPA, employers could be sued by employees or face enforcement actions by the State Department of Labor. If you have any questions about your obligations as an employer or your rights as an employee, contact our office at (800) 893-9645 for a confidential consultation.
IMPACTING EMPLOYEES AND EMPLOYERS
1. Change to Wage Rate Notices: Employers are not required to provide an annual wage notice between January and February of each year going forward; however, employers are still required to provide wage notices to employees upon their hire. Sample Wage Rate Notice forms can be found on the State Department of Labor’s site.
2. Personal Liability for LLC Members: Under the amendments, the top 10 members (i.e., those with the highest percentage of ownership) are jointly and severally liable for wages and salaries owed to employees. Employees who bring successful actions against LLC members under the statue may also recover attorney’s fees, costs, liquidated damages, penalties and interest. This provision is said to be similar to Section 630 of the Business Corporation Law.
3. Greater Penalties for Non-Compliance: Under the amendments, the penalties for violations increase significantly from $50 per week to $50 per day and the damages were increased from $2,500 to $5,000 per employee.
4. Liability for Successor Companies: Some employers attempt to escape paying wages to their employees by closing their businesses and opening and new business. Under the amendments, alter ego companies (i.e., companies with the same ownership, employees, products, equipment and customers) can be liable for a predecessor’s violations related to non-payment of wages. In practice, this is another hurdle for employees but the amendments provide some ammunition to employees.
5. Enhanced Penalties For Repeat Offenders: If an employer repeatedly violates the labor law or its non-compliant actions are willful, enhanced penalties have been added under the amendments.
This is a good time for employers to assess their own compliance practices. It is imperative for employers to audit their pay practices to ensure they are in compliance before any government audit or private lawsuit is initiated. Proactive steps can save companies money and time. The record retention requirements are not changed so companies should maintain their records. This is also a good time for employees to assess if they are owed any wages – employees should take prompt action to ensure payment. If you have any questions or want to discuss payment issues, contact our Award-Winning NY Employment Lawyer for a confidential consultation.
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