Most companies focus on federal laws that impose requirements on the employer-employee relationship, including those in the wage and hour arena. However, companies often pay a price for failing to consider, even unintentionally, the various obligations imposed on the state level. Thus, companies with offices located in New York, or that have employees who are based in and work in New York, should take notice of the statutory requirements that do exist in the “forgotten” New York State Labor Law.
To begin a summary of the “forgotten” New York State requirements, Section 190 of the New York Labor Law contains relevant definitions. “Employer” is defined broadly to include “any person, corporation or association employing any individual in any occupation, industry, trade, business or service.” “Employee” is defined, in a similarly insightful way, as “any person employed for hire by an employer in any employment.” These terms are intentionally defined broadly to effectuate the wide reach intended by these regulations.
Next, Section 192 of the Labor Law provides that an employer can only use a direct deposit method of wage payment if it obtains the advance written consent of the particular employee. This provision does not apply to a person engaged in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity who earns more than $900 per week.
Section 193 imposes strict prohibitions against making deductions from an employee’s wages. Specifically, an employer can only deduct money from an employee’s wages if the deduction is made in accordance with the provisions of a particular law or regulation, or if the deduction is expressly authorized in writing by the employee and the deduction is for the benefit of the employee, such as insurance premium payments, union dues, or pension or welfare benefits. This section was amended as of Nov. 6 to expand the list of permissible deductions, although employers are still generally prohibited from deducting an amount from wages due to a shortage found in an employee’s cash register, due to an employee’s failure to return a company uniform, or due to any lost, damaged, or unsold inventory, or any other violations of company policy. An employer may discipline an employee up to and including termination for violations of company policy, but may not make any unauthorized deductions from an employee’s wages.