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New York Law Protects Employee's Wages
kjb234@cornell.edu
| February 3, 2012
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The Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA), a controversial law passes in 2010, is beginning to stir up opinions as it begins to take effect. The law requires businesses and employers to provide the notices to its employees between January 1 and February 1 of each year. The employees are the required to sign and return the information. In addition to current employees, all new hires should expect to receive this notice also.

Each notice will include the same information. Employers are to provide rates of pay, overtime rates, how the employee is paid, a regular pay date, the employer's official name and any other names that may be associated with the business, the employer's address and main phone line number, and allowances that are taken as a part of minimum wage. The employer MUST provide the notice in English and the employee's native language. The Department of Labor offers translations in Spanish, Haitian Creole, Chinese, Korean, Polish, and Russian. 

The law took effect in April of 2011. One key aspects of the law is to provide the employee with more information about their wages. If the employer fails to provide certain information, public violations will be posted by the Department of Labor for the employees to see. In addition, the Department of Labor now has more power to enforce the rules against retaliation found in Labor Law 215, as listed below and also may be found on the New York State Department of Labor Website.

  • It was always illegal to discharge, penalize and/or discriminate against an employee who makes a complaint. Threats are now included as a form of retaliation. 
  • In the past, only employers could be cited for retaliation. Now, it is illegal for any person to retaliate. 
  • In the past, penalties for breaking this rule meant an employer could be fined up to $10,000. Now, DoL can order the employer or the person who acted against the employee to pay liquidated damages. The payment can be up to $10,000. 
  • DOL may order the employer to reinstate the worker’s job. Or the employer may have to pay the person for lost salary or pay a lump sum in lieu of reinstatement. 
  • Retaliation carries criminal penalties for employee complaints about any section of the Labor Law.
  • The protection applies to any worker who alleges that the employer has done something that the employee thinks breaks a Labor Law or an Order issued by the Commissioner. This applies even if the employee is mistaken about the law, if they acted in good faith. it applies even if the employee does not cite a specific part of the Labor Law. 
  • This law protects employees even if the employer incorrectly believes they made a complaint. 


Some employers and lawmakers believe that this is "unjustified paperwork." Meanwhile, unions believe that this is helping the employee. There are debates to have the law rewritten to be more exact and less strenuous on everyone, but to ensure that fair practices and rightful wages are earned. 

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