Portrait of diverse manual workers

At Lipsky Lowe LLP, we are committed to protecting the rights of manual workers in New York Understanding the crucial role manual labor plays in our economy, we diligently work to ensure these hardworking individuals receive their wages on time and in full. If you are a manual laborer and have been misclassified or denied timely wage payments, you have a right to take legal action to recover damages. 

Our legal team is well-versed in the standards set by New York’s labor laws and provides powerful representation to those facing wage violations. When you meet with us, we will determine whether you have a valid claim and choose the best course of action. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

What is New York’s Untimely Wage Payment Law?

Under New York Labor Law (NYLL) Section 191, which applies to all private, for-profit employers, manual workers must be paid weekly and within 7 calendar days of the week in which the wages are earned. This regulation ensures that manual workers are not subject to undue delays in wage payments. 

Being paid every two weeks can impose a hardship on manual workers who depend on a weekly income to cover living costs and pay bills. The law is designed to provide a degree of financial security and stability to manual workers, who form an integral part of the workforce. Employers that fail to follow these regulations can face penalties and legal liabilities. 

How Are Manual Workers Defined? 

Generally, manual workers are defined based on the nature of their work, which predominantly involves physical labor or the use of physical skills. Section 190(4) of the NYLL defines a manual worker as a “mechanic, workingman, or laborer.” This classification includes a wide range of occupations, such as construction workers, factory workers, mechanics, gardeners, and many others who perform manual labor as a significant part of their job.

While this seems straightforward, the Department of Labor has defined manual laborers more broadly to include a wide range of employees across multiple industries. Notably, the Labor Department has held that individuals who spend 25% of their time performing physical tasks – lifting boxes, sweeping floors, stocking shelves, or standing or walking for significant periods – fall under the manual laborer banner. Accordingly, the list of workers who may be considered manual laborers includes:

  • Cashiers
  • Bartenders
  • Baristas
  • Hairdressers
  • Retail store workers
  • Pizza makers
  • Supermarket employees
  • Restaurant employees
  • Janitors
  • Construction workers
  • Mechanics
  • Security guards
  • Factory/Warehouse workers

This is not an exhaustive list. Whether someone qualifies as a manual laborer is fact-specific based on the individual’s job duties.  In any event, if you spend more than a quarter of your working time moving boxes, sweeping floors, or merely standing, you are likely a manual laborer. 

When Employers Fail to Pay Manual Workers Weekly

In the 2018 case of Vega v. CM & Associates Construction Management, LLC, a New York appellate court provided a significant interpretation of New York’s wage payment laws for manual workers. The plaintiff, a manual worker, sued for the alleged violation of the NYLL’s requirement for weekly wage payments. The employer had failed to pay weekly wages, leading to a legal dispute over the interpretation and enforcement of the law.

The court held that “manual workers” who are paid bi-monthly instead of weekly can recover liquidated and other damages from their employer in a civil lawsuit, even if they have been receiving full pay because such pay is considered “late.” 

This case serves as a cautionary tale for employers, emphasizing the legal consequences of non-compliance with wage payment regulations. It also demonstrates the legal recourse available to manual workers, ensuring their right to timely wage payments is upheld. Ultimately, an employer may be required to pay liquidated damages in the amount of 100% of the delayed wages, plus interest and attorneys’ fees and costs.

Talk To An Wage Payment Attorney Today

At Lipsky Lowe, we are well-versed in New York labor law and deeply committed to the rights and well-being of manual workers. We provide personalized attention to each case, understanding that every situation is unique. Our approach is grounded in a thorough understanding of the law, and a steadfast commitment to justice. When you partner with us, you can trust us to be your voice and protect your rights. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.