New York – The New York State Assembly voted Tuesday May 24 to strengthen current laws to help victims of “wage theft” secure payment of unpaid wages for work already performed.
The legislation known as SWEAT Bill (Securing Wages Earned Against Theft), was sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D) and provides essential tools to victims of wage theft whose employers may seek to evade responsibility by dissipating corporate or personal assets to frustrate collection of a judgment.
“Currently, aggrieved employees who are often owed thousands of dollars in compensation, win their wages back in court, but have little to no ability to compel their employer to pay up,” said Assemblymember Rosenthal. “My legislation will help to remove the barriers employees face when trying to collect legal judgments for unpaid wages.”
A broad coalition of labor leaders and immigrants rights groups has advocated for this and other legislation to protect the most vulnerable workers.
“The US Department of Labor estimates that $1 billion of wage theft occurs yearly in NYS, and this bill really helps workers get paid their hard-earned money. It’s not only fair, it’s the law, but some employers find strategies to evade it. These bad faith employers exploit the system harming the American economy,” said Favio Ramirez-Caminatti, executive director of El Centro del Inmigrante in Staten Island and one of the leaders of the SWEAT Coalition. “We have been working hard with Assemblywoman Rosenthal and this bill is product of that work. We also appreciate the support of our Staten Island Assemblymembers Mathew Titone and Michael Cusick, who voted in favor of the bill. As we usually say: ‘Together, we can’.”
Now that bill A05501 passed the Assembly, it has been sent to the state Senate, which must also vote.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SWEAT BILL:
* At least $125 million is owed to New York State’s workers in unpaid wage judgments issued by Courts and the New York Department of Labor.
* Workers in the restaurant and construction industry are particularly impacted by their inability to collect wages owed from their employers.
* 74% of the amount of wages DOL determined to be owed to workers was based on minimum wage violations, demonstrating the extreme level of exploitation the evasive employers had engaged in.
ABOUT THE SWEAT COALITION
The SWEAT (“Securing Wages Earned Against Theft”) Coalition is a growing group of grassroots organizations, workers’ centers, legal service providers, and advocates fighting to ensure that New York’s workers are able to recover the wages they are owed by employers. El Centro del Inmigrante is the only organization member in Staten Island.
Bill text: http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&bn=A05501&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Text=Y&Votes=Y