The Manhattan District Attorney has recently issued a press release regarding the creation of a new “Worker Protection Unit” (the “Unit”). The Unit will be charged with investigating and prosecuting wage and hour violations and other violations of the Labor Law. The DA’s office has had jurisdiction Under NY Labor Law 198-A to impose criminal penalties against employers who do not pay wages to all of their employees in accordance with the provisions of the New York State Labor Law. Those charges could also be lodged against the officers and agents of the corporation, partnership or limited liability company who knowingly permit that company to violate that law. However, this is something different. According to the press release, the Unit would permit the DA’s office to “significantly expand its focus to include other industries with high rates of worker exploitation and wage theft, such as home healthcare agencies, fast food and restaurants, and more,” (emphasis added).
With very rare exception, employers have generally not been threatened with potential criminal prosecution and rather, face civil enforcement as it pertains to potential wage and hour violations through either a private suit by the employee or through an investigation by the Department of Labor. However, it is not difficult to imagine that there will be significantly more prosecutions which could result in an employer, including its officers and agents, being charged with wage theft exposing them to potential misdemeanor convictions for the first offense, together with monetary penalties and, for a second offense within six years of the date of the prior conviction, a felony charge of wage theft.
Now more than ever, employers in New York City, as well as anywhere in the state of New York, must ensure that they comply fully with New York’s Wage and Hour Laws, including but not limited to monitoring the classifications established for their employees are proper, making sure that claimed exemptions are appropriate and that proper records are maintained by the employer documenting the employee’s time spent on the job.
Civil enforcement of a wage and hour violation is bad enough as it can cost a significant amount of money to employers because the employee is entitled to not only repayment of the lost wages, but liquidated damages in an equal amount, interest and attorneys’ fees.
If you have concerns that your payroll policies and time recording systems are not fully consistent with applicable Federal, state and local, it is incumbent upon the employer to take all steps proper to ensure compliance.
[LC3]Paul, was this an internal communication or do you want it in the document? If so, I’ll modify the punctuation to accommodate.
[PM4]I want it in
[LC5]Is there a word missing? Including but not limited to what?
[LC7]This is the subtle call to action; I would start a new paragraph so it is not buried.