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In this regard, this blog is Part III of our series on “Remedies under Major New York Labor and Employment Laws” and a review of the doctrine of “Remedies” – a very significant issue under New York’s Employment and Labor Laws. In Part II, we deliberated on the remedies available under New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), N.Y. Exec. Law §§ 290 et seq. Accordingly, we noted that the NYSHRL provides a broad range of remedies, including economic, compensatory, punitive, and “other” remedies. Notably, one of the remedies that stand out entails economic damages referred to as back pay, and that is aimed at remedying any losses that a victim of a violation, such as harassment or discrimination, incurred before the specific violation took place.
To move on with this discussion, this blog is titled “Remedies Available under New York Minimum Wage Act” and is a review of the remedies available under the New York Minimum Wage Act as codified under N.Y. Lab. Law §§ 650 et seq.
Remedies Available under New York Minimum Wage Act
For starters, economic damages are available under the New York Minimum Wage Act. Pursuant to N.Y. Lab. Law § 663(1), (2), the economic damages recoverable by an employee entail the total sum of all unpaid wages. Additionally, pursuant to N.Y. Lab. Law §§ 218(1), 219, the employee may also recover any wages, wage supplements, or benefits due and annual interest starting from the underpayment date to the payment date. Further, N.Y. Lab. Law § 663(1) also provides for a prejudgment interest when an employee brings a civil action before a court.
However, unlike under the NYSHRL, there is no applicable statute through which an employee may recover compensatory damages under the New York Minimum Wage Act.
Similarly, the New York Minimum Wage Act has no applicable statute through which a court could impose punitive damages against an employer.
Attorney’s Fees and Costs
Nonetheless, despite the unavailability of compensatory and punitive damages, the New York Minimum Wage Act, as codified under N.Y. Lab. Law § 663(4), stipulates that attorney’s fees and costs incurred when a court enforces its judgment in a civil action may be collected by the commissioner or an employee. Additionally, pursuant to N.Y. Lab. Law § 663(1), all reasonable attorney’s fees and costs are recoverable by an employee that prevails in an action under this law.
Just like when it comes to compensatory and punitive damages, New York has no applicable law through which a prevailing party may be granted injunctive relief.
Lastly, it is also important to note that a court may also impose an additional amount in the form of “liquidated” damages if the employer is unable to demonstrate a good faith basis that it believed it was lawful under the New York Wage Act to underpay wages.
For instance, in an administrative action, as codified under N.Y. Lab. Law §§ 663(1), (2), 218(1), a court may impose an amount of up to 100% of the total underpayments. Notably, the same statute provides that in a civil action, a court may require the employer to pay an amount equal to 100% of the total underpayments. Employers and employees alike should also be aware that pursuant to N.Y. Lab. Law § 218(1), a court may impose an additional civil penalty amounting to not more than twice the amount of wage supplements, benefits, or wages.
Additionally, N.Y. Lab. Law §§ 218(1), 219 stipulates that liquidated damages amounting to the sum total (100%) of all unpaid wages constitute “other” remedy recoverable by an employee. Moreover, pursuant to N.Y. Lab. Law § 662, a court may rule that an employer engaged in a criminal offense based on the violations in question.
Further, if it fails to pay the total amount due 90 days after the appeal duration has expired or within 90 days after the judgment (whichever comes later), a court can, as codified under N.Y. Lab. Law §§ 663(4), 218(1), enforce an extra 15% of the total judgment.
In Part III of the series and a blog titled “Remedies Available under Disability Benefits & Paid Family Leave Benefits Laws,” we will discuss the various remedies available under these laws and as codified under N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law §§ 200 et seq.
As usual, stay tuned for more legal guidance, training, and education. In the interim, if there are any questions or comments, please let us know at the Contact Us page!
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