Weekly Pay Period Required for Manual Workers
If you have manual workers on your payroll, ensure they are all paid with the frequency required under the law.
Section 191 of New York Labor Law requires that manual workers be paid weekly, not biweekly. This is perhaps a lesser known provision of the law. There was previously a question of what exactly the ramifications would be for an employer who paid its manual workers all wages due, but on a biweekly basis, in violation of the law. There could be fines imposed by the Department of Labor, but it was unclear what exactly an employee could recover when the employee did not actually lose wages.
Recently, an appellate court in New York made clear that even when a manual worker has been paid every cent due as wages, that worker could be entitled to liquidated damages equal to the amount of his or her wages for the relevant time period. This means that an employee could sue his or her employer and collect up to six years of pay if he or she was incorrectly paid on a biweekly basis, even if that employee was fully paid for that entire time period.
For employers with many manual workers, this can result in a huge liability if the workers file suit. It’s unclear currently if employees who bring such a lawsuit would be entitled to attorneys’ fees or not, but if a court finds fees can be granted, there is a huge incentive for firms to seek out potential plaintiffs for collective action litigation.
If you are unsure if some or all of your workers fall into the definition of “manual worker,” check with counsel to ensure you are in compliance.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us here or call us at 585.258.2800.