Search form

New York Legislature Passes Bill Allowing Liens on Employers for Alleged Wage Claims

By Jeffrey W. Brecher and Heather C. Hili
  • July 15, 2019

A bill aimed at increasing protections for employer “wage theft” by allowing an employer’s current or former employee, or the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL), to place a lien on the employer’s interest in real or personal property for the value of a wage claim, plus liquidated damages, has passed the New York State Legislature. If signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the law will become effective 30 days after signing.

Examples of employer wage theft include minimum wage violations, failing to pay overtime, and not paying tipped workers the difference between their tips and the legal minimum wage.

The bill permits workers to put a lien on an employer’s property in connection with an alleged “wage claim.” A “wage claim” is defined as a claim for a violation of New York Labor Law Sections 170 (hours of labor for domestic workers), 193 (deductions from wages), 196-d (gratuities), or 652 and 673 (minimum wages), as well as the related regulations and wage orders promulgated by the labor commissioner. A “wage claim” also includes a claim for wages due to an employee pursuant to an employment contract that were unpaid in violation of that contract, and a claim for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (e.g., overtime claims).

An employee’s lien for a wage claim may not be placed on an employer’s bank accounts or goods.

The lien may be filed at any time, but not later than three years following the end of the employment giving rise to the wage claim.

If the bill becomes law, it could have unintended negative consequences for employers operating in New York. Of the handful of other states that already allow similar liens on employers, only one (Wisconsin) allows such liens based solely on allegations, rather than a finding of liability. Opponents of the bill have identified a number of other concerns for the state’s business community should the bill become law, including a potential freeze to credit needed by small businesses when a lien is filed because banks may not extend credit under such circumstances. They also argue that the bill would give employees unfair leverage.

Jackson Lewis will continue to monitor the status of this bill. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this bill or any other wage and hour issue, please contact the Jackson Lewis attorney(s) with whom you regularly work.

©2019 Jackson Lewis P.C. This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between Jackson Lewis and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material. This material may be considered attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Reproduction of this material in whole or in part is prohibited without the express prior written consent of Jackson Lewis P.C., a law firm that built its reputation on providing workplace law representation to management. Founded in 1958, the firm has grown to more than 900 attorneys in major cities nationwide serving clients across a wide range of practices and industries including government relations, healthcare and sports law. More information about Jackson Lewis can be found at

See AllRelated Articles You May Like

August 21, 2019

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Agency Proposes Changes to Hours of Service Rules for Truck Drivers

August 21, 2019

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on changes to the hours of service (HOS) rules. Background First adopted in 1937, FMCSA’s HOS rules set the permitted operating hours of commercial drivers. FMCSA mandated use of... Read More

August 13, 2019

New York Expands Harassment Laws, Protections of Religious Attire, Clothing, or Facial Hair

August 13, 2019

New York state has enacted sweeping new workplace harassment protections for employees, including lowering the standard for when harassment is actionable. It also has adopted new law prohibiting employment discrimination based on religious attire, clothing, or facial hair. Workplace Sexual Harassment On August 12, 2019, Governor... Read More

August 7, 2019

New Jersey Wage Theft Law Increases Employer Liability for Wage and Hour Violations

August 7, 2019

New Jersey’s Wage Theft Act (WTA) significantly enhances employer penalties under the state’s wage and hour laws by adding liquidated damages and providing extra protections for employee retaliation claims. In addition, the WTA makes client-employers and labor contractors jointly and severally liable “for any violations of the provisions... Read More

Related Practices