Over the past decade-plus, New York lawmakers have passed several laws intended to combat perceived wage theft across the Empire State. On September 6, 2023, lawmakers in Albany continued this trend by passing a bill that codifies wage theft as criminal larceny.

Specifically, the bill adds a new subsection to the New York Penal Law’s larceny statute to include wage theft, which it describes as when a person is hired “to perform services and the person performs such services and the [employer] does not pay wages, at the minimum wage rate and overtime . . . to said person for work performed.” In such a case, the prosecution is permitted to aggregate multiple non-payments or underpayments from an individual or workforce, even if such incidents occurred in multiple counties.

Simply put, New York State employers who fail to timely and fully pay all wages due to their employees could potentially now be subject to criminal penalties (in addition to the preexisting civil damages and penalties). In light of this new law, employers should review their policies and records to ensure immediate compliance.