We previously posted here that on December 29, 2014 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law amending the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act (“WTPA”). Most of the WTPA amendments took effect on February 27, 2015, 60 days after the law was signed by Governor Cuomo. Due to a technical problem with the bill originally passed in 2014, the New York legislature recently passed an amendment that accelerated the effective date for the wage notice change to eliminate employers’ need to distribute the annual wage notice in 2015.

The WTPA amendments that passed in 2014 provided that the New York Department of Labor’s (“NYDOL”) investigation of a wage complaint would cover the entire six-year period preceding the complaint. The new amendments that were passed in February 2015 deleted this requirement, leaving the scope of a NYDOL wage investigation less clear.

The WTPA, enacted in 2010, requires employers to provide wage-related information to employees, including the employee’s rate of pay, basis for the rate of pay, the employee’s regular pay day, and certain information about the employer. The WTPA originally required employers to provide wage notices at the time of hire, annually between January 1 and February 1, and whenever there are changes to the information. The WTPA amendments signed into law on December 29, 2014, eliminated the requirement that employers distribute the annual notice, although the notice must continue to be provided to employees at the time of hire.

The amendments also modified the WTPA, as follows:

  • increased penalties for employers who fail to provide the wage notice to new employees;
  • increased damages that employees may recover in a civil action for violations of the Act;
  • increased penalties for employers who fail to provide pay-rate information with each wage payment;
  • successor liability on employers who own and operate a predecessor entity that committed a prior labor law violation;
  • joint and several liability on certain members of a limited liability company (“LLC”) for violations of the WTPA; and
  • increased penalties for repeat offenders of the WTPA.

Although elimination of the annual notice requirement is a welcome change, employers should carefully review the requirements of the WTPA because penalties for noncompliance have significantly increased since the law was first passed in 2010.