New York Closes in on Comprehensive Employee Wage Lien Law

Employee Relations Law Journal

New York is on the precipice of passing a law that would allow employees to easily file liens against an employer’s property in connection with pending wage disputes. The bill also would permit employee access to certain sensitive employer records and expand the scope of personal liability for owners in disputes over wages. The authors of this article advise employers to monitor these developments and work with counsel to prepare an action plan should this bill become law.

The New York State legislature has recently passed a bill that could substantially alter the legal landscape of wage disputes if signed into law by Governor Cuomo. The proposed Employee Wage Lien bill would allow employees to obtain liens against an employer’s real property and personal property based on allegations involving nonpayment of wages. If signed into law, the bill will become effective within 30 days. Similar laws have been enacted on other states.

The law will allow employees to file a notice of a lien up to three years following the end of the employment giving rise to the wage claim. Employees will be able to place liens up to the total amount allegedly owed based on claims relating to overtime compensation, minimum wage, spread of hours pay, call-in pay, uniform maintenance, unlawful wage deductions, improper meal or tip credits or withheld gratuities, unpaid compensation due under an employment contract, or a claim that the employer violated an existing wage order. In addition, the state’s attorney general and the New York State Department of Labor will be able to obtain a lien on behalf of an individual employee—or a class of employees—against an employer that is the subject of an investigation, court proceeding, or agency action.

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“New York Closes in on Comprehensive Employee Wage Lien Law,” by Mara B. Levin, Anthony A. Mingione, and Stephen E. Tisman was published in the Winter 2019 edition of Employee Relations Law Journal (Vol. 45, No. 3). Reprinted with permission from Wolters Kluwer.

This article was first published as a Blank Rome Labor & Employment Advisory (July 2019).