New York Wage & Hour Law Archives

January 5, 2012

First Annual Written Pay Notice under the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act Due by February 1, 2012

            2012 is the first year that private-sector New York employers must provide the annual written pay notice required by the Wage Theft Prevention Act.  Although the initial passage of the Wage Theft Prevention Act over a year ago garnered significant attention, it is worth reiterating now that the February 1 deadline for provision of the annual notice is rapidly approaching and employers should use the remaining time to ensure compliance with the new notice obligations.


            On December 14, 2010, then-Governor David Paterson signed the Wage Theft Prevention Act, S. 8380/ A. 11726 (the "Act"), into law in New York State, which amended Section 195 of the New York Labor Law.  Joining a growing number of states with similar wage theft legislation, the Act sought to address classification of employees and payment of statutorily-mandated minimum wages and overtime, and included enhanced civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance.  In effect since April 9, 2011, the requirements applies to all private-sector employers in New York.


            Under the Act, every employee, whether full or part-time, whether covered by a union contract or not, and regardless of exempt status, must receive a written pay notice between January 1 and February 1 of each year, including the following information:

  • the employee's rate of pay, including overtime rate of pay, if non-exempt;
  • the basis of the wage payment (e.g., by  the  hour, shift, day, week, salary, piece, commission, or other); 
  • the regular payday;
  • the allowances taken as part of the minimum wage (e.g., tip, meal and lodging deductions); 
  • the employer's official name and any other "doing business as" names; and 
  • the address and phone number of the employer's main office or principal location, and mailing address if different. 


2012 is the first year that employers must provide the annual written pay notice, which applies even if none of the information has changed from the prior year.          


            Under the Act, the notice must be provided in English and in the employee's primary language if the New York Department of Labor ("NY DOL") offers a translation.  Currently, the NY DOL offers dual language translations in Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Polish, Russian, and Spanish, all of which are available here.  Employers with seasonal employees on layoff between January 1 and February 1 must furnish the notice as soon as the employees return from layoff.  The notice may be distributed electronically, but only if employees' receipt of the notice and acknowledgment is verifiable and if the employee is able to print a copy for their records. 


            In addition, the Act requires employers to obtain a signed and dated acknowledgment of the notice from each employee.  Employers must retain copies of the notice and accompanying acknowledgment for six years, and provide them to the NY DOL upon request.  If an employee refuses to acknowledge the notice, an employer should still give the notice and note the refusal on its retained copy.  Moreover, an employee cannot waive the written notice requirement.  The NY DOL can assess penalties of $50 per week per employee if a proper written notice is not provided, and employees can sue for not receiving a proper written notice with damages capped at $2,500 per employee. 


            With the February 1, 2012 deadline rapidly approaching, employers should take any remaining steps necessary for to meet the annual notice requirements.  The NY DOL provides web-based, printable model templates for employers seeking guidance, which are available here.  The Act does not require the use of these particular forms, and employers may develop their own forms so long as all the information legally required is included.  The NY DOL has also published a Fact Sheet on the Act, available here, and a set of FAQs, available here.


            This post was authored by Matt Lampe, Joseph Bernasky, and Jenny Ma of Jones Day.  The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jones Day or the New York State Bar Association.



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April 10, 2012


On February 29, 2012, the New York State Senate passed Bill S60631-2011, which would eliminate the annual notice requirement under the New York State Wage Theft Prevention Act, which we discussed in a prior post.  The Bill does not add text to the Wage Theft Prevention Act, and keeps intact the notice requirements for new hires, but deletes the language regarding the requirement that such notices be provided "on or before February first of each subsequent year of the employee's employment with the employer...." 

The Bill was introduced by Senator DeFrancisco on January 4, 2012.  The Senate Memo summarizing the Bill explains, as its justification, that the annual notice requirement "imposes a new administrative cost on every private sector employer in the state, with aggregate costs in the millions of dollars, and will do little to improve overall compliance with the state's wage laws. The Department of Labor has conceded that wage compliance is an issue for only a small percentage of New York State employers, despite the universal application of this annual notice requirement. This type of annual notification requirement should be reserved for instances where non-compliance has been an issue, however, as an across the board measure, it will add costs and provide little if any additional benefit.  Moreover, this modification to the WPTA leaves in place its most significant reforms intended to assure payment of all wages earned by employees."

Now that the Bill has passed the Senate, it has been delivered to the Assembly, where an identical bill (A08856) is pending, and if passed by the Assembly, will be presented to the Governor for signature.  New York employers should stay tuned for further developments on this Bill. 

This post was authored by Matt Lampe and Joseph Bernasky of Jones Day.  The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jones Day or the New York State Bar Association. 

November 8, 2012

New Categories of Permissible Wage Deductions Take Effect

Effective November 6, 2012, amendments to the New York Labor Law Section 193 ("Section 193") authorize a host of new permissible wage deductions from employee paychecks.  Bill A10875-2011 passed the New York State Legislature on June 21, 2012, and was signed into law by Governor Cuomo on September 7, 2012.  Governor Cuomo's "Statement in Support" of the bill noted that employers' inability to make deductions for valuable services provided to employees is "disadvantageous to both employers and employees."  Since 1966, New York employers have been prohibited from making any deductions from employee paychecks, subject to a limited number of exceptions. 


The recent amendments are a welcome change for New York employers, as state courts and the New York Department of Labor ("NYDOL") Opinion Letters have consistently taken a narrow approach to the deductions enumerated in Section 193.  Prior to the new amendments, New York law permitted deductions under only two circumstances: (1) as otherwise authorized by law (e.g., tax withholdings or Medicare contributions); and (2) the narrow, statutorily enumerated deductions in Section 193 (e.g., charitable organizations, labor organization dues, insurance premiums, and retirement contributions).


The newly permissible deductions are numerous and include, but are not limited to, the following: parking passes or mass transit vouchers; gym membership dues; certain purchases made by the employee, such as cafeteria or vending machine purchases at the employer's place of business; tuition, room and board fees; and day care expenses. 


Additionally, the new amendments allow employers to make deductions to recover an overpayment of wages that is due to mathematical or other clerical errors, and to recoup salary or wage advances.  Wage deductions related to overpayments and repayments of wages must comply with additional regulations promulgated by the NYDOL (addressing, e.g., the timing, frequency, duration, method of recovery, heightened notice requirements, and implementation of an employee-dispute system). 


New York employers should carefully review the new law as there are several notice requirements that must be fulfilled prior to making any deductions from employee wages.  For example, employers must provide employees with written notice of the terms and conditions of the payments and benefits, and other relevant details pertaining to how deductions will be taken.  Also, employees must provide their employer with a voluntary, written authorization, which may be freely revoked.  These written authorizations must be kept on the employer's premises throughout the employment relationship, and for an additional six years following conclusion of the relationship.  Employees can also authorize wage deductions through a collective bargaining agreement. 


Notably, if no further legislative action is taken, these amendments to the law will expire on November 6, 2015.  As additional requirements may be promulgated from time to time by the NYDOL, employers should continue to closely monitor the legislation's post-enactment activity.


This post was authored by Matt Lampe, Emilie Hendee, and Michele Bradley of Jones Day.  The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jones Day or the New York State Bar Association.

January 16, 2013

Eighth Circuit Enforces Mandatory Arbitration Agreement Waiving FLSA Class Claims

The Eighth Circuit, in Owen vs. Bristol Care, Inc., No. 12-1719 (8th Cir. 1/7/13), held that the plaintiff must arbitrate her Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") overtime claim even though the governing mandatory arbitration agreement ("MAA") contained a waiver of class claims barring her proposed collective action.

Owen, a former administrator with Bristol Care, a nursing home operator, brought her FLSA action in federal district court on behalf of herself and other similarly situated current and former employees alleging that she and other administrators had been deliberately misclassified as "exempt" employees for purposes of FLSA and corresponding state laws. The district court denied Bristol Care's motion to compel arbitration in accordance with the MAA and the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"). The court reasoned that although the MAA encompassed Owen's claim, arbitration could not be ordered here because the inclusion of the class waiver in the MAA rendered it invalid. In so concluding, the court noted that the Supreme Court's decision in AT&T Mobility LLC vs. Concepcion, 563 U.S. __, 131 S.Ct. 1740 (2011), upholding a class waiver in a consumer arbitration agreement, was not controlling in the employment context. Citing Chen-Oster vs. Goldman Sachs & Co., 758 F.Supp. 2d 394 (S.D.N.Y. 2011) and D.R. Horton, Inc., 357 NLRB No. 184 (2012), it explained that class waivers are invalid in FLSA cases because the FLSA authorizes the bringing of a class action.

In reversing the district court, the Eighth Circuit instructed that Section 2 of the FAA "requires courts to enforce arbitration agreements according to their terms," absent a "contrary congressional command" in another statute overriding the FAA's mandate. It noted that the burden to make this showing rests with the party challenging the arbitration agreement.

Owen, the Eighth Circuit decided, failed to meet this burden. "Owen identifies nothing in either the text or legislative history of the FLSA that indicates a congressional intent to bar employees from agreeing to arbitrate FLSA claims individually, nor is there an 'inherent conflict' between the FLSA and the FAA. In short, the FLSA contains no 'contrary congressional command' as required to override the FAA."

The Eighth Circuit also highlighted that its conclusion is consistent with the five other courts of appeals that have addressed the issue. See Vilches vs. The Travelers Companies, Inc., 413 F. App'x 487 (3rd Cir. 2011); Caley vs. Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., 428 F.3d 1359 (11th Cir. 2005); Carter vs. Countrywide Credit Industry, Inc., 362 F.3d 294 (5th Cir. 2004); Adkins vs. Labor Ready, Inc., 303 F.3d 496 (4th Cir. 2002); Horentstein vs. Mortgage Market, Inc., 9 F. App'x 618 (9th Cir. 2001).

July 9, 2013

The New York City Council Overrides Mayor Bloomberg's Veto of the Earned Sick Time Act By A 47 To 4 Margin

On June 26, 2013, the New York City Council (the "Council") voted 47-4 to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg's veto and adopt the New York City Earned Sick Time Act (the "Act"). The Act will require employers with 20 or more employees to begin providing paid sick leave on April 1, 2014. Employers with 15 to 19 employees would be required to provide paid sick leave starting October 1, 2015. These dates could be delayed depending on economic conditions, as measured against the New York Coincident Economic Index, a Federal Reserve Index that measures the New York City economy.

The Act entitles employees to up to five paid sick days (40 hours) annually, which will accrue at the rate of one hour for every thirty hours worked. Employees can begin to use accrued paid sick time after they have been employed for at least 120 days or 120 days after the Act goes into effect, whichever is later. Both part-time and full-time employees are covered, so long as they are employed more than 80 hours in a calendar year. At the end of the year, the employer must either allow the employee to carry over unused accrued paid sick time to the following year (subject to the 40 hour maximum) or pay the employee for the unused accrued paid sick time. Employers are not required to reimburse employees for unused accrued paid sick time upon the employee's termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment.

Employees are entitled to use sick time for absences due to (1) the employee's mental or physical illness, injury or health condition, need for medical diagnosis, care or treatment, or need for preventative medical care; (2) care of a family member needing such medical diagnosis, care or treatment; or (3) closure of the place of business due to a public health emergency or to care for a child whose school is closed due to a public health emergency.

Employees working for employers with less than fifteen employees will be entitled to up to five days of unpaid, job-protected leave once the Act becomes effective. The Act also imposes sick leave requirements on employers of domestic workers. The Act will not apply to any employee covered by a collective bargaining agreement that expressly waives the Act's provisions or provides for comparable benefits. Any employer with a paid leave policy that provides an amount of paid leave sufficient to meet the accrual requirements of the Act is not required to provide additional paid sick time.

The Act mandates that employers retain records documenting the number of hours worked by employees and sick time accrued and taken by employees for a period of at least two years. Employers are required to provide employees with written notice of their entitlement to paid sick time and display a poster in a conspicuous location highlighting the rights guaranteed under the Act. Additionally, the Act includes non-retaliation provisions, which if violated can lead to monetary penalties and other forms of equitable relief.

The Department of Consumer Affairs (the "Department") is responsible for investigating and enforcing the Act. The Department can impose civil penalties ranging from $500 to $1,000 per violation. The Department can also order the employer to pay penalties to the affected employee. For unlawful termination, the Department can award back pay and equitable relief (including reinstatement). Employees have no right to bring a private civil action for violations of the Act.

Employers should begin to consider what steps are necessary to comply with the Act in advance of the effective date. Even those employers who already provide paid leave will need to review existing policies to determine whether those policies meet the specific accrual requirements of the Act, as well as its unique coverage requirements (which extend protection to both part-time and full-time employees). Furthermore, employers will need to ensure compliance with the recordkeeping and notice requirements of the Act.

This post was authored by Matt Lampe, Wendy Butler, Emilie Hendee, and Joshua Grossman of Jones Day. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jones Day or the New York State Bar Association.

July 29, 2013

Summary of Proposed Regulations Regarding Permissible Wage Deductions

On May 7, 2013, the New York Department of Labor ("NY DOL") submitted Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning the recent amendments to New York Labor Law Section 193 ("Section 193"), which became effective on November 6, 2012.  On July 6, 2013, the period for notice and public comments closed.  Accordingly, the final regulations are expected to be released later this year.


The amendments to Section 193 expanded the permissible categories of wage deductions employers can make under New York law.  In addition, the amendments to Section 193 permit employers to recoup overpayments and seek repayment of advances made to employees.  The major highlights of the Proposed Rulemaking are outlined in greater detail below.   


Permissible deductions.  The amendments to Section 193 authorized voluntary deductions made "for the benefit of the employee."  The Proposed Rulemaking clarifies that permissible voluntary deductions will be considered to be for the "benefit of the employee" when they provide "financial or other support" for the employee, his or her family or a charitable organization.  12 NYCRR § 195-4.3(a).  The categories of "other support" are limited to health and welfare benefits, pensions and retirement benefits, child care and educational benefits, charitable benefits, dues and assessments, transportation and food and lodging.  Id.  However, deductions made solely for the "convenience" of the employee - absent a benefit to the employee that falls in these permissible categories - are not "recognized benefits" of the employee.  Id. § 195-4.3(b). 


Written, informed consent.  According to the Proposed Rulemaking, a deduction shall be authorized if it is agreed to in a collective bargaining agreement or by a written agreement between the employer and employees that is "express, written, voluntary, and informed."  12 NYCRR § 195-4.2(a).  An employee will be "informed" when "the employee is provided with written notice of all terms and conditions of the deduction, its benefit and the details of the manner in which the deductions shall be made."  Id.  Significantly, written notice of the deduction must be provided to the employee prior to the initial authorization and deduction, and prior to any change in the amount of a deduction or "substantial change" in the benefits of the deduction.  Id.  When the amount of the deduction increases, a "substantial" change is presumed for purposes of requiring the employer to issue a written notice.  Id.  Moreover, in the event that the nature of the deduction fluctuates (for example, employee purchases in the workplace cafeteria), the employer and employee may agree in advance to pre-define the permissible range of authorized deductions to obviate the need for any additional notice or authorization.  Id. 


Prohibited deductions.  In addition, Subpart Section 195-4.5 of the Proposed Rulemaking identifies specifically prohibited wage deductions, which include:  (i) any repayments of loans, advances or overpayments not made in conformity with the Proposed Rulemaking; (ii) employee purchases of tools, equipment and attire required for work; (iii) recoupment of unauthorized expenses, repayment of employer losses, including spoilage and breakage, cash shortages, and fines or penalties incurred by the employer for the employee's conduct; (iv) fines or penalties for tardiness, excessive leave, misconduct, or quitting without notice; (v) contributions to political action committees, campaigns and similar payments; and (vi) fees, interests or the employer's administrative costs.  12 NYCRR § 195-4.5.


Recoupment of overpayments.  To recoup an overpayment made to an employee due to mathematical error or other clerical error, the employer must follow the procedures set forth in Subpart Section 195-5.1.  Specifically, the employer must provide a written "notice of intent" to the employee before commencing the deductions to recover the overpayment.  12 NYCRR § 195-5.1(e).  The employer's notice of intent to recover the overpayment shall contain: (i) the amount overpaid in total and per pay period; (ii) the total amount to be deducted; (iii) the date each deduction shall occur; (iv) the amount of each deduction; (v) a notice to the employee that he or she may contest the overpayment by a set deadline; and (vi) the procedure to contest the overpayment.  Id. § 195-5.1(e).


Dispute procedure for overpayment.  The Proposed Rulemaking sets forth specific guidelines governing a permissible dispute procedure for employees to contest the deduction of wages for overpayment.  12 NYCRR § 195-5.1(f)(1).  If an employee avails himself of the employer's dispute procedure, the employer may not commence deductions until at least three weeks after issuing the final determination to the employee.  Id. § 195-5.1(g).  The employer must pay the employee for any deduction found to be improper no later than the time period provided for payment of wages earned on the day of that determination, and may make the payment immediately.  Id. 


Effect of collective bargaining agreement.  Significantly, if the dispute resolution procedure of a collective bargaining agreement existing at the time of the issuance of the regulations provides at least as much protection as the dispute procedure contemplated by the regulations, the agreement's procedure will be in compliance with the law.  Id. § 195-5.1(f).  If a dispute resolution procedure is enacted in a collective bargaining agreement after the issuance of the regulations and provides at least as much protection to the employee as the contemplated dispute procedure, and the agreement references Subpart Section 195-5.1(f), that agreement's procedure also will be in compliance with the law.  Id.  


Repayment of wage/salary advances.  The amendments to Section 193 also permit an employer to make wage deductions for repayment of wage/salary advances, exclusive of any interest or fees (which may not be reclaimed through deductions).  Prior to paying any advance to an employee, the employer and employee must agree to the timing, duration and manner of repayment by deduction in writing, and no further advance may be given to the employee until the existing advance has been repaid in full.  12 NYCRR § 195-5.2(a). 


Dispute procedure for advances.  Similar to the dispute procedure for overpayments, the employer shall implement a dispute procedure for employees to contest the amount and frequency of deductions for advances.  12 NYCRR § 195-5.2(f).      


Format of documents and recordkeeping.  The Proposed Rulemaking requires any written authorizations, notices, responses, replies, or determinations set forth therein to be given in writing, through email or by other electronic means.  12 NYCRR § 195-5.3.  Moreover, the employer must keep a record of any authorization obtained from an employee for at least six years following the employee's termination of employment.  Id.


This post was authored by Matt Lampe, Terri Chase, and Joanne Alnajjar of Jones Day.  The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jones Day or the New York State Bar Association.


August 29, 2013

Third Circuit: Existence of Collective Bargaining Agreements Did Not Bar Plaintiffs From Pursuing FLSA Claims

The Third Circuit in Bell v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, No. 12-4031 (3rd Cir. August 19, 2013), reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Plaintiffs, former and current bus drivers and trolley operators, brought an FLSA collective action to recover unpaid wages and overtime compensation relative to the pre-trip inspections to which they were subject prior to the start of their daily runs. In granting SEPTA's motion to dismiss, the district court concluded that the FLSA claims required interpretation of provisions of three collective bargaining agreements (CBA's) between SEPTA and the unions representing the plaintiffs, and, therefore, were subject to the grievance and arbitration provisions of those agreements.

In rejecting the district court's conclusion, Judge Barry explained that the plaintiffs do not contend that SEPTA violated any term of the CBA's, although each contained a provision addressing compensation for time worked prior to the start of the morning shift. Instead, plaintiffs assert that their FLSA claims exist independently of any rights they have under the applicable CBA's. As such, Judge Barry highlighted, resolution of these claims (i.e., failure to compensate for all time worked in performing pre-trip inspections; and exclusion of pre-trip responsibilities from calculation of overtime) do not require an interpretation of the CBA's. Rather, they require "a factual determination of the amount of time [plaintiffs] are required to work prior to their scheduled start and a legal determination regarding whether this time is (1) compensable and (2) subject to the overtime provisions of the FLSA."

Judge Barry distinguished the court's earlier ruling in Valdino v. A. Valey Engineers, 903 F.2d 253 (3rd Cir. 1990), on which the district court relied. In Valdino, the plaintiff, claiming he should have been compensated at the "journeyman" rate and not the "normal" rate under the CBA, alleged that the employer violated the FLSA by failing to pay his hours worked in excess forty per week at one and one-half times the journeyman rate. For this reason, Judge Barry noted that in contrast to the claims in this case, Valdino's FLSA claim was "tethered to the threshold question of whether or not he was entitled to the journeyman wages or normal wages under the governing CBA." In sum, the claim was derivative of his breach of contract claim and necessarily dependent on an interpretation of the CBA.

August 30, 2013

Second Circuit Holds Class Action Waiver in Arbitration Agreement Enforceable Against Plaintiff's FLSA Claims

The Second Circuit in Sutherland v. Ernst & Young, No. 12-304-cv (2nd Cir. August 9, 2013), concluded that as consequence of the Supreme Court's decision this term in American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant, 133 S. Ct. 2304 (2013), its so-called "effective vindication doctrine" as applied in In re American Express Merchant's Litigation, 554 F.3d 300 (2nd Cir. 2009) ("Amex"), is "no longer good law." Specifically, a showing that plaintiff has no economic incentive to pursue his/her statutory claims individually no longer provides a basis for invalidating a class-action waiver in an arbitration agreement. Instead, interpreting Italian Colors, the court instructed, arbitration agreements should be enforced according to their terms, including class-action waivers, absent a "contrary congressional command" in the statute governing the claim being brought. Finding no "contrary congressional command" in the Fair Labor Standards Act barring waiver of class arbitration, the court held that Sutherland must arbitrate her FLSA claims individually even though the ratio of her costs to potential recovery was approximately 100:1.

Quoting Italian Colors, the court noted that the "effective vindication doctrine" remains available to invalidate "'a provision in an arbitration agreement forbidding the assertion of certain statutory rights . . . . [and] would perhaps cover filing and administrative fees attached to arbitration that are so high as to make access to the forum impractical.'"

August 1, 2014

State Lawmakers Pass Bill to Eliminate Annual Wage Notice Requirement

As of June 19, 2014, both the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate voted to pass a bill (A08106C / S05885-B) to amend the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act to eliminate the annual wage notice requirement (the "Bill").  The Bill will become law if signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. 

Under the current law, New York employers are required to provide all employees with an annual wage notice before February first of each year, which includes information about the employee's rate of pay and the employer.  The Bill would eliminate this annual notice requirement for employers as long as the same information is provided at the time of hire. The Bill does not change the existing requirements to provide wage notices at the time of hire and/or where changes to employee pay are made.  

In addition to eliminating the annual wage notice requirement, the Bill would increase penalties for certain violations of the New York wage law.  Specifically, employers who fail to provide a wage notice within ten business days of a new employee's first day of work, or fail to provide a wage statement as required by the law, would incur damages of $50 per day (previously $50 per week), up to a total amount of $5,000 (previously $2,500).  An employer who is found to have retaliated against an employee in violation of the wage law could incur a civil penalty of up to $20,000 (previously $10,000). 

Additionally, the bill requires employers who have previously committed wage theft, or whose violation is willful or egregious, to report certain employee and wage data to the Commissioner of Labor to be published online.  The bill makes clear, however, that employers should not report or otherwise disclose individual identifying information of employees.  The bill makes it harder to avoid liability via restructuring by making "an employer similar in operation or ownership to a prior employer who had previously committed wage theft" liable for acts of the prior employer.  It also places increased burdens on contractors found liable for wage violations and sets up a Wage Theft Prevention Enforcement Account to help fund the administration and enforcement of the Wage Prevention Theft Act.

Employers should monitor the Bill and, if and when it is signed by Gov. Cuomo, take steps to adjust their payroll practices accordingly.  

This post was authored by Matt Lampe, Emilie Hendee, and Laura Jean Eichten of Jones Day.  The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jones Day or the New York State Bar Association. 

March 3, 2015

UPDATE: Bill Eliminating New York's Annual Wage Notice Requirement Takes Effect

On February 27, 2015, 60 days after Governor Cuomo signed it, a bill (A08106C / S05885-B) became effective that amends the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act to eliminate the annual wage notice requirement.  This means that moving forward, employers do not have to distribute annual wage notices to all employees.


The newly-effective law also increases penalties for certain violations of the New York wage law.  More details on these changes can be found in our previous post by clicking here.  Employers should evaluate any revisions that might be needed to their practices in light of this amendment.  


This post was authored by Matt Lampe, Emilie Hendee, and Laura Jean Eichten of Jones Day.  The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jones Day or the New York State Bar Association.


May 1, 2015


Keeping in line with the national trend, New York lawmakers in Albany have proposed two significant raises to statewide minimum wage requirements, which will go into effect as early as December 31, 2015.

First, in his State of the State Address on January 28, 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed an increase to the state's minimum wage, which would raise it to $10.50 per hour by the end of 2016. An even higher hourly minimum wage of $11.50 was suggested for employees in New York City, to reflect the higher cost of living in the metropolitan area. This proposal functions as a compromise to exasperated New Yorkers without overturning longstanding precedent that prohibits municipalities in New York State from setting local wages above the state minimum. See Wholesale Laundry Board of Trade, Inc. v. New York, 17 A.D.2d 327, 329-30 (1st Dep't 1962).

Second, on February 24, 2015, the New York State Commissioner of Labor Mario J. Musolino adopted resolutions set forth by the Department of Labor's Wage Board that will significantly increase the wages and rights of tipped workers across the state. Most prominent among these was the resolution to increase the minimum wage for tipped employees to $7.50 per hour, effective December 31, 2015, and $8.50 per hour for tipped workers in New York City, contingent upon the State Assembly's adoption of a distinct wage for the City. Commissioner Musolino also adopted a recommendation to eliminate distinctions between tipped workers within the hospitality industry. Effective December 31, 2015, food service employees, service employees, and service employees in resort hotels will be treated equally under the Labor Law. The Commissioner rejected the Wage Board's recommendation that employers of tipped workers should be subject to enhanced tip credits, citing incongruity with the Wage Board's desire to simplify the regulations and rejecting the underlying assumption that tip allowances are a penalty rather than a substantive right to pay.

If and when these changes go into effect, New York State and New York City will become leaders in the nationwide Living Wage movement. The current statewide minimum wage is $8.75 per hour, and is set to increase to $9.00 per hour on December 31, 2015.

"Written by Kerry C. Herman, Associate at Sapir Schragin LLP. The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own and do not reflect those of Sapir Schragin LLP."

November 20, 2015

Governor Cuomo Signs Amendments to Equal Pay and Human Rights Laws

On October 21, 2015, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation amending New York State's Human Rights Law and New York Labor Law to expand protections available to employees.  The amendments will become effective January 19, 2016. 

New York Equal Pay Law

New York's equal pay law (N.Y. Lab. Law §§ 194, 198), which currently allows employers to justify a pay difference between employees of opposite genders based on a seniority system, a merit system, a system measuring earnings by quantity or quality of production, or "any other factor other than sex," has been amended in three ways.  First, the new law (S.1/A.6075) removes the last permissible basis for differentiation, replacing it with narrower language that allows a pay differential to be based on "a bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training, or experience."  Under the amended law, a "bona fide factor" cannot be based on a "sex-based differential in compensation" and must be "job-related with respect to the position in question" and consistent with business necessity.  An employee may challenge a "bona fide factor" defense by showing that the employer's practice causes a disparate impact on the basis of sex, that an alternative practice exists that would serve the same business purpose, and that the employer has refused to adopt the alternative practice.

Second, the bill bans employers from retaliating against employees for discussing their wages with one another.  Employers may, however, establish reasonable time, place and manner prohibitions on such discussions, such as "prohibiting an employee from discussing or disclosing the wages of another employee without such employee's permission."  This retaliation prohibition and the new "bona fide factor" exception closely follow language in the so-called "Paycheck Fairness Act," a long-proposed amendment to the federal Equal Pay Act.

Third, the bill provides for additional "liquidated" damages of up to 300% of the wages due in cases where an employer is unable to prove that it acted in good faith when violating the law.  This is a significant increase from the current version of New York's equal pay law, which, like the federal Equal Pay Act, only provides for liquidated damages of up to 100% of wages due. 

New York Human Rights Law

The New York State Human Rights Law has been amended in four ways.  First, S.2/A.5360 amends N.Y. Exec. Law § 292 to allow sexual harassment suits against employers regardless of the number of employees employed by the company.  Under existing law, employers with fewer than four employees are excluded from the definition of "employer."  This amendment creates a limited exception to this definition for sexual harassment suits. 

Second, S.3/A.7189 amends N.Y. Exec. Law § 297 to  grant courts and the state Commissioner of Human Rights the discretion to award reasonable attorneys fees to the prevailing party in claims of employment or credit discrimination on the basis of sex.  Under existing law, attorneys fees may only be awarded in housing discrimination cases.

Third, S.4/A.7317 amends N.Y. Exec. Law § 296 to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of "familial status."      

Fourth, S.8/A.4272 amends N.Y. Exec. Law §§ 292 and 296 to require reasonable accommodations for employees with a "pregnancy-related condition."  The amendment defines the term "pregnancy-related condition" as "a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth that inhibits the exercise of a normal bodily function or is demonstrable by medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques."  The term is limited, however, to conditions that may be reasonably accommodated without preventing the complainant from performing in a reasonable manner the activities associated with the job in question. The term "reasonable accommodation" is defined to exclude actions that would "impose an undue hardship" on the employer.  The amendment also requires employees seeking an accommodation for their disability or pregnancy-related accommodation to cooperate in providing medical and other information necessary to verify the disability or pregnancy-related condition or for the consideration of the accommodation.

Employers should evaluate their current workplace policies to ensure they are consistent with these amendments. 

This post was authored by Matt Lampe, Emilie Hendee, Michael Casertano, and Michael Ferruggia of Jones Day.  The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jones Day or the New York State Bar Association. 

January 2, 2017

NY Employers Should Be Aware of Recently Adopted Changes to Salary Threshold For NY Overtime Exemptions

On December 28, the New York State Department of Labor adopted regulations that will increase the salary threshold for exempt employees. As a result, many more employees in New York (i.e., those who will no longer meet the new salary threshold) will become eligible for overtime pay.

The amount of the increase varies by region and by the size of the employer and will gradually increase over time. In New York City, for employers with 11 or more employees, the new salary threshold will be $825 per week on and after December 31, 2016; $975 per week on and after December 31, 2017; and $1,125 per week on and after December 31, 2018. For small employers with employees in New York City, and for employers with employees outside New York City (but within New York State), the increases are smaller and phase in over a longer period. For example, for upstate employees, the new salary threshold will be $727.50 per week on and after December 31, 2016, and will gradually increase each year until it reaches $937.50 per week on December 31, 2020.

Importantly, this change in New York law will become effective without regard to the fate of the federal regulations that were scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016. Those regulations, which were enjoined by a federal court in the Eastern District of Texas, would have increased the federal salary threshold for white collar employees from $455 per week to $913 per week.

The changes in the New York salary threshold could very well take employers by surprise, since the regulations were published with little fanfare. The New York Department of Labor published the rule to comply with a 2016 law that increased minimum wage rates for nonexempt employees in New York. Although that law did not specifically call for increases to the salary threshold for exempt employees, the law instructed the Department of Labor to revise its wage orders "to increase all monetary amounts specified therein in the same proportion as the increase in the hourly minimum wage as provided in this [section]." The law further provided that the changes could be promulgated by the DOL without public hearing and without reference to a wage board, and that such changes "shall become effective on the effective date of such increases in the minimum wage ...."

The upshot of these changes is not intuitive and requires a close examination of New York's wage orders. For employers covered by the Miscellaneous Wage Order, there are two different overtime rates. One overtime rate, applicable to employees who are entitled to overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), is calculated as 1.5 time the employee's regular rate. The other overtime rate, applicable to employees who are not entitled to overtime under the FLSA, but are entitled to overtime under New York law, is calculated as 1.5 times the New York minimum wage, which may very well be lower than the employee's regular rate.

Take, for example, an employee in New York City who earns $800 per week and works for a large employer. As of December 31, 2016, that employee will meet the salary threshold for the federal exemption (assuming the injunction is not lifted), but will not meet the salary threshold for the New York exemption. Thus, the employee, if he or she satisfies the duties test for exemption, will be exempt from federal overtime. But the employee will be below the salary threshold for New York, and thus must receive 1.5 times New York minimum wage for hours worked over 40 in a week. In New York City, the minimum wage for large employers will be $11 per hour as of December 31, 2016. So this employee's overtime rate will $16.50 (which is 1.5 x $11). While the overtime pay for such an employee could be significant, it would be less than what would be required under federal law if the employee were overtime eligible under federal law. Federal overtime would be $30 an hour, which is 1.5 times the employee's hourly rate of $20.

Employers subject to the Hospitality, Fast Food, and/or Building Service wage orders should consult the provisions of the applicable wage order, which may vary from the provisions described above. For instance, employers covered by the Hospitality Wage Order must pay overtime at 1.5 times the regular rate to all overtime-eligible employees, and cannot take advantage of the lower rate (1.5 times minimum wage) described in the above example.

Another compliance challenge arises due to the regional variation in salary thresholds. An employee who works in New York City some weeks, but travels upstate in other weeks, may satisfy the exemption test when working upstate, but loose exempt status while working in New York City because of the higher salary threshold applicable in New York City. The New York Department of Labor has issued guidance indicating that in such situations, the employer can increase the employee's salary in weeks the employee works in a higher salary threshold region to avoid paying overtime.

This post was authored by Matt Lampe and Wendy Butler of Jones Day. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jones Day or the New York State Bar Association.

About New York Wage & Hour Law

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Labor & Employment N.Y. ("LENY") in the New York Wage & Hour Law category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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