By: Gregory J. Spaun Published: January 2009

Employers take notice. Governor Paterson has signed legislation affecting the obligations of employers vis-a-vis their employees. Here is what this means to you, as an employer.

Past Due Wages: As of November 24, 2009, the Commissioner of Labor will be empowered to prosecute claims to collect underpaid or unpaid wages before administrative judges within the Department of Labor. This process is similar to that which is used to determine contested unemployment eligibility claims. The legislation also permits the judge to impose an additional assessment against the employer (“liquidated damages”), unless the employer can demonstrate that it had a good faith basis to believe that its underpayment of wages was legal. Previously, the Commissioner of Labor was required to prosecute such claims by starting a civil lawsuit, and the burden required to recoup liquidated damages was the employee’s (by demonstrating that the employer’s underpayment was willful).  

Employer Retaliation: In connection with the past due wage legislation, there has been an increase in the penalties which can be imposed upon an employer who is determined to have retaliated against an employee for complaining of a wage or other Labor Law violation (by, for example, firing the employee or reducing the employee’s work hours or benefits, or by reassigning the employee to a less favorable task or position). These penalties, which previously had a range of $200 to $1,000, now range from $2,000 to $10,000. The penalty provision has also been expanded to include officers and agents of limited liability companies and partnerships.  

New Hire Notice: Commencing October 26, 2009, employers will be required to notify all newly hired employees, in writing, of: 1) their base rate of pay; 2) their overtime rate of pay; and 3) the employer’s regular paydays. The employer must also obtain from the new employee a written acknowledgment of the receipt of this notice.  

If you have any questions about the information set forth in this Legal Alert, call us at 
914-428-2100.  Please understand that this alert provides general information only.  It is not intended to provide legal advice. We encourage you to contact an attorney should you desire to discuss specific situations for which you may need legal advice.   

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