New York Bill would assess double wage penalty on employers

U.S. employers are required to abide by specific employment regulations. Some laws have been implemented by the federal government; others have been passed by specific states. Each state's laws, however, vary. Some are more favorable to employers; others to employees.

A new bill, recently put forth in front of the New York state legislature, however, aims to provide additional legal recourse for employees. A New York Assemblywoman introduced a bill that could mandate stiffer repercussions against employers who fail to pay employees their legally earned wages.

Specifics of the bill

This past January, Democratic Assemblywoman Annette Robinson introduced a bill that would increase the amount of liquidated damages an employer is required to pay an employee for wage violations.

Under current New York law, an employer who is found to underpay an employee is required to pay damages of up to 100 percent of the total amount of wages due to the employee.

The new bill, however, stipulates that if employers fail to underpay an employee his or her rightfully owed wages for more than 30 days, or the employer has failed to pay the wages of 10 or more employees, that employer is then required to pay damages double the amount of total wages owed to each employee.

The new bill also authorizes those employees the ability to form a class action and be represented as a whole if needed.

The New York bill is currently pending and being reviewed by the Assembly Committee on Labor. The bill, if passed, would take effect 90 days after it is signed by the governor.

A similar bill

A similar bill in the state of New Jersey recently passed through the New Jersey Assembly and is up for committee review.

In December of 2012, the New Jersey Assembly approved a bill that would require employers, who fail to pay employees their lawfully owed wages, to pay damages equal to 100 percent of original wages owed to the employee.

The bill also stipulates that employers may be assessed additional fines depending on the number of similar violations. Specifically, for first offenses, the bill will require employers to pay a fine of $500 plus 20 percent penalty of the total wages owed. For subsequent offenses, the bill would force employers to pay a $1000 fine and a 20 percent penalty of the total wages owed.

The bill is currently pending in the New Jersey Senate and is being examined by the Labor Committee.

It remains to be seen whether the New York bill will be signed into law.