This is the second installment of our two-part blog series on recent wage-related changes to New York state law. In part one, we covered the expanded definition of retaliation under the New York Labor Law. Today, we will discuss a bill that permits employees to place wage liens on their employer’s property.

Employees in New York have long been able to seek recourse for wage claims through litigation in federal and state court, as well as through the federal and state Departments of Labor. Under this new legislation, employees will also be able to place a lien on an employer’s real or personal property for the value of an alleged wage claim and related liquidated damages. A “wage claim” under the bill includes federal and state claims related to minimum wage, overtime, spread of hours, unlawful deductions, withheld gratuities, improper tip and meal credits, and compensation under employment agreements. Employees of all classifications and pay rates will be able to obtain wage liens within three years after their employment ends.

Importantly, employees will be able to levy wage liens not only against the employer’s corporate entity, but also against managers, supervisors, owners, and other individuals with control over working conditions. The bill also imposes personal liability for wage theft on the ten members with the largest ownership interests in a company and the ten largest shareholders of non-publicly traded corporations. Employers, supervisors, and stakeholders should, therefore, brace themselves for wage liens and a spike in wage theft actions. This law will take effect 30 days after it is signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Employers can begin preparing for implementation of this new law by conducting audits of their pay practices to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and any employment agreements or compensation plans.