Wage Theft Prevention Act

The New York Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA) requires employers to provide employees with written notice of their wage rates. Employees work hard to earn money for themselves and their families. Figuring out whether or not an employer is paying an employee the correct wage can be challenging. Several different New York state and federal laws regulate how an employer calculates your pay rate. When an employer violates these laws, the affected employee may have a right to seek compensation.

If you’re an employee in New York and your employer has failed to provide you with required wage-related notices, you might be entitled to compensation. At Lipsky Lowe LLP, we focus exclusively on employment law issues, including wage and hour violations. Contact our New York City law firm today to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can help you.

Understanding the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act

The New York Wage Theft Prevention Act took effect in 2011. In 2015, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law amendments to the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act. The changes eliminated some employer notification requirements. Employers no longer need to notify every employee regarding their pay rate, allowances, payday, and other payment issues. The recent amendments to the Act do not eliminate all of the notification requirements, however. Employers still have a legal obligation to provide employees with wage rate notices.

Required Wage Notices for New Employees in New York

Per the requirements of the WTPA, employers must provide written notice to each new employee as to their wage rates. Each written notice must include the following:

  • The rate or rates of pay
  • If applicable, the rate of overtime pay
  • Whether the employee will receive payment by the hour, day, week, shift, or commission
  • The date of the employee’s regular payday
  • The employer’s official business name and any other names used to do business (DBA)
  • The phone number and address of the employer’s principal location or main office
  • Any tip, meal, or lodging deductions taken as part of the minimum wage

Employees must receive their wage notices within ten business days of their first day of employment. The employer must write the required notice in English. If New York’s Labor Department offers a translation, the employer must include the employee’s primary language in addition to English. The Labor Department provides translations in the following languages:

  • Chinese
  • Spanish
  • Haitian Creole
  • Korean
  • Polish
  • Russian

Wage Statements Requirements for Current Employees

The New York Wage Theft Prevention Act requires employers to provide each employee with wage statements or pay stubs on each payday. The pay stub or wage statement must include the following:

  • The employer’s name, address, and phone number
  • The dates covered within the pay period indicated on the pay stub
  • The regular hours worked
  • Any overtime hours worked
  • The rate of pay for regular and overtime hours
  • An indication of whether the employee is paid by the hour, by day, or by week
  • The net and gross wages for the specified pay period
  • An itemized list of credits and allowances claimed by the employer during the pay period

Additionally, employers must provide employees with a written explanation of how the employer computed their wages upon request.

Contractor Accountability Under the WTPA

The 2015 amendments to the WTPA amended the New York Construction Agency Fair Play Act. Now, contractors and sub-contractors must abide by the wage notice requirements of the WTPA. Should contractors or subcontractors who work in New York commit wage violations, they must notify all of the employees at their construction worksite as to the nature of the violations.

Damages Available For Failure to Provide Required Notices

When employers fail to provide employees with the required wage statements, they must pay damages. The WTPA requires employers to pay damages of up to $250 per day, per employee for failure to provide wage statements. The employers are not required to pay these damages if they can prove that they paid their employees the correct amount of wages required by New York law. Should an employee file a civil lawsuit against his or her employer, the total damages amount stops at $5,000 per employee.

When an employer fails to pay the wages required by New York and federal law, the WTPA provides for even higher penalties. Currently, employees can recover liquid damages of up to 100 percent of their unpaid wages. When the Department of Labor issues the delinquent employer with an Order to Comply, it can require the employer to pay all of the back payment as well as 100 percent liquid damages, wage supplements, interest on wages, civil penalties, and interest.

What Happens if the employer Doesn’t Pay the Ordered Damages?

Ten days after the Department of Labor issues the Order to Comply, it can require employers to provide a full list of their assets. The Department of Labor also has the option of requiring the employer to post a bond. The Commissioner of the Department of Labor can bring a civil court case against the employer for failure to pay.

Should the employer refuse to provide a list of its assets, the Department of Labor has the authority to issue a penalty up to $10,000. Finally, if the employer fails to pay the damages in full within 90 days of receiving the final Order to Comply, the Department of Labor can add 15 percent of the total amount of damages to the judgment.

Our Employment Attorneys Can Help

The WTPA provides that notice-related claims have a six-year statute of limitations. Employees typically have six years to file a complaint regarding the failure to receive adequate notice. If your employer is failing to comply with the notice requirements of the Wage Theft Prevention Act, you may be entitled to compensation. We fight hard on behalf of our clients and provide them with excellent customer service. Contact our New York City employment law office today to schedule your initial appointment.

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