Friday, December 3, 2010

NY state passes law to prevent wage theft

Good news for New York workers: Gov. Dave Patterson says he'll sign a wage theft prevention bill into law. The Legislature enacted the bill this week.

Wage theft is a huge problem in New York (and everywhere else, for that matter). A recent study shows employers steal almost $1 billion from New York workers by cheating them out of overtime and minimum wages.

N.Y. State Sen. Diane Savino sponsored the bill. She said it will raise penalties for employers who don't pay the minimum wage ($7.25 an hour), misclassify workers as independent contractors or force them to work off the clock. Savino said
"Businesses that are good corporate citizens and promptly pay their employees what is owed them, as required by law, should not be at a disadvantage to companies that are illegally withholding wages from their workers."

The new law will also for the first time subject partnerships and limited liability corporations to criminal penalties if they cheat their workers.

Illinois enacted a similar law this summer. Employers who steal from their employees will face felony charges for repeat offenses and will have to pay back wages, interest and fines.  Miami-Dade County also passed a wage theft law in February.

Kudos to Kim Bobo, founder and executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice. The organization has done terrific work fighting for justice for workers across the country.