Store incharge training young worker. Supermarket manager giving training to a trainee.

Under New York’s labor laws, employers must pay manual laborers weekly, not bi-weekly. Many employers and employees may not realize that the term manual labor includes a broader range of job roles than many realize. Many retail store workers are considered manual workers and entitled to receive a paycheck every week.

Has your employer only been paying you on a bi-weekly basis? You may have a right to pursue a claim for damages from your employer. Even if you have been paid the total amount of wages you’ve earned, you may be able to recover damages for delayed payments. The New York City employment law attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP are prepared to answer your questions and help you understand whether you have a compensation claim.

Manual Workers, Including Retail Workers, Must Be Paid Weekly

For over 100 years, New York’s Labor Code has long required employers to pay manual workers at least once weekly. Manual workers are defined as “mechanics, workingmen, or laborers.” The New York State Department of Labor uses a broad interpretation of the phrase “manual worker.” Under this broad interpretation, workers who spend at least 25 percent of their time engaged in physical labor are considered manual workers. 

When people think about physical labor, they may think of construction workers, welders, carpenters, and other occupations requiring physically demanding labor. However, under New York’s Labor Code, physical labor isn’t restricted to physically demanding work. The New York State Industrial Board of Appeals defines physical labor as work performed by exerting any type of physical force, whether aided by tools or not. 

As a result, many jobs that aren’t traditionally viewed as manual labor are now included. For example, baristas, cooks, cashiers, and retail store workers are now classified as manual laborers. Some exceptions exist to the general rule, such as for large employers, employees in professional or executive roles, and nonprofit entities. 

The Department of Labor Makes Decisions on a Case-by-Case basis

The classification of New York employees as manual laborers isn’t always crystal clear. Instead of listing specific job classifications considered manual labor, the Department of Labor makes decisions on a case-by-case basis. The employee’s day-to-day tasks will have a greater impact on whether they are considered manual laborers than their job titles. 

Some retail store workers may not be considered manual laborers. Suppose a retail cashier only performs tasks like handling customer payments. The worker can sit on a chair for the entire workday due to a physical disability. In that case, the Department of Labor may not consider the retail employee a manual laborer. The employee doesn’t spend at least 25% of his or her time engaged in physical labor.

However, if a retail worker is required to stock shelves with products, engage in cleaning tasks, work as an attendant in the changing rooms, and walk to and from the register for at least 25% of the work day, he or she will likely be considered a manual worker. Employers have a responsibility to assess each employee’s job role, including their day-to-day duties, to determine whether they are considered to be a manual worker. It’s possible for some retail store workers to be considered manual workers and paid weekly while others do not meet the criteria of a manual worker.

Pursuing Compensation For Delayed Payment As a Retail Store Worker

Suppose you believe that you engage in enough physical activity at your job as a retail store worker to be eligible as a manual laborator. In that case, you may have the right to file a complaint against your employer. The New York Division of Labor Standards processes claims related to wage-an-hour violations. 

Additionally, recent legal developments allow manual workers to pursue a civil lawsuit for damages. A New York Appellate Court recently ruled that employers who have been denied weekly payments can recover liquidated and other damages through a civil lawsuit in Vega v. CM & Associates Construction Management, LLC.

This groundbreaking ruling provides employees with the right to sue their employer directly in civil court for violating New York’s labor laws. The Appellate Court clarified that even if the employer has paid the employee all the wages he or she is owed, the employee can still recover damages for the delayed payment. 

For example, suppose an employee earns $1,000 per week. The employee is a retail store worker who does enough physical labor to qualify as a manual laborer. The employer pays the employee twice a month, for a total of $4,000 in compensation. The employee has been paid for every hour he or she has worked. 

However, half of the payments are considered delayed payments under New York law. The employee may be able to pursue a claim for $48,000 per year. The statute of limitations for these types of claims is six years. if the employer failed to pay the employee weekly for 6 years, the employee could potentially recover at least $48,000 in damages. 

The Benefits of Working with an Experienced Attorney

It’s important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible so you can begin the process of pursuing a claim against your employer. The attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP can help you understand the Total value of your claim. We can also help you determine the best legal strategy for recovering the most compensation from your employers.

Have You Been the Victim of Delayed Payments? We Can Help

If you are a retail store worker in New York, you are likely considered a manual employee. Consequently, your employer must pay you every week. The expanded definition of what it means to be a manual worker in New York makes it even more important for employees to understand their rights. 

Whether you’re a retail store worker or a business owner, our attorneys are prepared to answer your questions and provide skilled legal guidance. Don’t hesitate to schedule a complimentary case evaluation with one of our experienced New York employment attorneys.