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A recent judicial decision has marked a significant development in New York’s employment law concerning late wage payments. This ruling opens the door for employees to hire their own lawyers to seek legal recourse when their paychecks are not provided in a timely manner. For employers, this serves as a critical reminder of the necessity to adhere strictly to wage payment schedules as dictated by state labor laws. Furthermore, the outcome of this case reaffirmed the state’s commitment to upholding labor rights and helped shed light on the concrete consequences of delayed wage payments.

Background of the Case

In the recent New York case of Birthwright vs. Advance Stores Company, Inc., a construction worker brought a class action lawsuit against his employer for consistent late payments of wages since he was paid biweekly rather than weekly. The plaintiff argued that such delays were in violation of New York Labor Law, which stipulates strict timelines for wage payments to employees. In response, the defendant claimed that the law does not give the employees a private right of action to assert a claim for untimely payment of wages. In the past, only New York State had the ability to enforce weekly wage requirements, but a New York appeals court had held in 2019 that workers too could hire their own private attorneys to sue for late wages. In this case, the defendant challenged that determination.

New York Labor Law on Wage Payments

New York Labor Law is explicit when it comes to the frequency and timeliness of wage payments to employees. It mandates that employers must adhere to regular pay periods and are obligated to dispense wages no later than seven days after the end of the pay period for manual workers, and semi-monthly for clerical and other workers, unless otherwise exempt. Under the law, a manual worker is defined as anyone who spends more than 25% of their working time doing physical labor. This legislation is crucial for ensuring that employees receive their earnings without undue delay, allowing them to meet their financial needs reliably. 

The Court’s Interpretation and Ruling

In its interpretation of the New York Labor Law, the court found that the plaintiff did have a private right of action to sue his employer for untimely payment of wages. Having ultimately paid its employees in full was not a defense to such an action. The court determined that the plaintiff had been injured because he was denied the time value of his money and the opportunity to invest, save, or use his income. In addition, the court noted that the plaintiff had missed bill payments because his wages had been withheld. Thus, the court affirmed that employers are subject to liability under the state’s frequency-of-pay laws if they pay their manual workers late.

Implications for Employees in New York

The court’s decision has significant implications for employees in New York, offering them a firmer ground to challenge late payments. It sends a clear message to workers that the law is on their side when it comes to receiving their wages promptly. As a result, employees now have increased legal leverage to hold employers accountable for delays in wage payment, which can improve their financial security. This ruling may also encourage employees to monitor their pay and assert their rights when discrepancies arise.

In the event of late payments, this case empowers employees to take action. They do not have to file a claim with the New York State Department of Labor – they can hire private attorneys to initiate a class action lawsuit to recover their unpaid wages. Furthermore, the law provides for significant penalties and interest that may accrue on late wages, thereby incentivizing employers to adhere to the mandated payment schedules.

Are You Being Paid on Time? Let Us Help

The realm of labor law is continually evolving, and the recent New York ruling on late wage payments demonstrates the importance of staying informed and proactive about your rights as an employee. If you believe your wage payment rights have been violated, our experienced attorneys at the Lore Law Firm can help navigate your claims and secure the compensation you deserve. Contact us by completing our free and confidential online client intake form today.