• New York First in the Nation to Enact “Minimum Wage Enforcement and Outreach Unit”
  • June 26, 2017 | Authors: Gregory B. Reilly; Melanie M. Ghaw; Adam G. Guttell
  • Law Firms: Martin Clearwater & Bell LLP - Newark Office; Martin Clearwater & Bell LLP - East Meadow Office
  • New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the launch of the Minimum Wage Enforcement and Outreach Unit (“Unit”) to ensure compliance with the phase-in of the state’s new $15 minimum wage schedule. The multi-agency unit – comprised of over 200 investigators from multiple state agencies, including the Department of Labor, Department of Taxation, Department of State, and Workers’ Compensation Board – is the first-of-its-kind in the nation. The Unit will provide resources to inform workers about their rights under the new law and educate employers about their responsibilities under the wage regulations.

    In April 2016, Governor Cuomo signed the landmark legislation making New York the first state in the nation to enact a $15 minimum wage. The first set of minimum wage increases took effect on December 31, 2016 and will continue to phase in across the state through 2020. Employers who violate the wage regulations are subject to a fine of $3 for every hour they fail to properly pay an employee, back wages plus 100% in liquidated damages, and 100% in civil penalties. The Department of Labor can also conduct an audit of the employer’s entire workforce and all wages paid to each employee.

    Considering these developments, New York employers should give serious consideration to reviewing their current pay policies and practices to ensure that they are in legal compliance.