May 25, 2016

Assembly Passes Measure to Help Victims of Wage Theft Collect Their Owed Wages

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal announced the passage of legislation that would provide workers whose wages were illegally reduced or withheld by their employers, with legal options to collect the monies owed to them.

"As longstanding champions of the rights of workers across this state, the Assembly Majority proudly pushed for the enactment of the Wage Theft Prevention Act," said Speaker Heastie. "No one deserves to be cheated out of the wages they have worked for and this bill will help to give hardworking New Yorkers the defense they need to protect their livelihoods."

The Securing Wages Earned Against Theft (SWEAT) bill, (A.5501-C, Rosenthal) would provide all employees with the option to seek attachment of an employers' assets during the pendency of a court action for violations of the labor law relating to wage theft. The bill would provide additional remedies by clarifying that shareholders of a company or majority stakeholders can be held personally liable for payments owed to workers for wage theft violations

"The SWEAT bill will ensure that a judgment for earned wages is worth more than the piece of paper it's written on by allowing workers to file a lien against the assets of their employer," said Assemblymember Rosenthal. "New York State workers are owed millions of dollars in unpaid wage theft judgments which represent a month of rent, a week's worth of groceries or new school shoes for growing children. This legislation will give workers the tools they need to successfully pursue payment of the wages they worked hard to earn."

Wage theft, while prohibited by both federal and state wage and hour laws, continues to cost workers millions of dollars in withheld or underpaid wages each year. While New York has enacted some of the strongest anti-wage theft laws in the nation, workers who stand up for their rights and take action by filing a claim with the state Labor Department are sometimes left with few options to go after their former employers and collect their owed wages. This bill would strengthen anti-wage theft efforts by providing workers with legal remedies to collect what they are rightfully owed.