On December 29, 2014, Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill amending the New York Labor Law, including the Wage Theft Prevention Act (“WTPA”). The amendments:
(a) Eliminate the annual wage notice requirement. The Department of Labor will not enforce the annual notice requirement in 2015, and employers will no longer have to provide annual wage notices starting in 2016.
(b) Significantly increase the penalties for non-compliance with other WTPA provisions. For example, the penalty for failing to provide paystubs that comply with the WTPA will increase from $100 to $250 per violation. The cap on damages for violations increases to $5,000.
(c) Expand personal and corporate successor liability for violations. Among other changes, the 10 members with the largest percentage ownership interests in a limited liability company (“LLC”) will now be jointly and severally liable for all debts, wages or salaries due and owing to the LLC’s employees. “Wages and salaries” will now be defined broadly to include salaries, overtime, vacation, holiday and severance pay, employer contributions to pension or annuity funds, and any other money properly due or payable for services rendered. Employees may also recover liquidated damages, penalties, interest and attorneys’ fees or costs incurred in successfully pursuing WTPA claims. The amendments also include language intended to prevent employers from forming alter ego companies to avoid liabilities.
(d) Create a Wage Theft Prevention Enforcement Account intended to offset the costs in the administration and enforcement of New York Labor Law, which will be funded by fines and penalties collected by the New York Department of Labor.