Good News for Employers: Wage Theft Bill (with Lien Rights) Fails to Pass in NYS

As most employers know, for weeks, the New York State Legislature was considering passing a wage theft law (referred to as the “SWEAT” bill) that would have allowed alleged “victims” of wage theft to obtain a temporary lien against their employer’s (or alleged employer’s) assets upon the filing of a “wage claim.” (The term “wage claim” was not defined in the law and, thus it was unclear if a lawsuit had to be filed in order for the law’s provisions to be triggered, or whether a complaint to the Department of Labor would suffice).  In other words, the law would have allowed a current or former employee to file a claim against their employer (or former employer) and immediately place a lien on that employer’s personal and real property.  The lien, once filed, would be in the amount of the alleged claim (which could be a class claim), plus liquidated damages. In effect, the employee lien could prevent an employer from conveying, selling or transferring real or personal property while the employee lien is in place. The lien could impede a business’s attempts to sell the business or secure financing.

After weeks of hard lobbying by business groups, the legislative session ended before this bill was advanced.  So, for at least several more months, employers can breathe a sigh of relief!