There is a growing trend of employees suing their employers over late wages under New York labor law.
One of those situations comes from the fact that manual workers can sue companies over late wages, even if the wages have been fully paid.
Manual workers must be paid on a weekly basis, not bi-weekly. The key issue is knowing who should be considered a manual worker, not an administrative employee.
This is a “slippery” slope. Just to be safe it is recommended that companies lean toward classifying people as manual workers. It’s a small price to pay compared to the liability. The exposure is high. This is a sneaky little law that a lot of business owners don’t know about. It is an area where the liability and the standards against an employer are strict.
Employers who violate the pay frequency law must pay the full amount of delayed wages, plus attorney fees and interest. Paying the losses of the plaintiff is mandatory even if the manual workers were paid in full the following week.
Federal state and local government employers are not covered under this rule but private-sector employers are. However, certain large employers can apply to the New York State Department of Labor for an exemption to the rule.
How do you define “manual” worker? To correctly determine whether your employees are manual worker, you need to recognize what their daily tasks are, not rely on what the written job description or job title implies.
The NY State Labor Law defines a manual worker as a mechanic, workingman or laborer who spends more than 25 percent of working time engaged in physical labor. Common tasks classified as physical labor include heavy lifting, stocking shelves, unpacking boxes, bagging purchases, cleaning, standing and walking for long periods of time. This rule does not apply to individuals working in an executive, administrative or professional capacity and earning more than $900 in a week.
Workloads change and tasks are reassigned as needed, so an employer must keep up on what their employees are doing. Payroll procedures may need to be adjusted when someone starts handling manual tasks.
If a person spends their day sweeping floors, that person is a manual worker. It’s a matter of being very realistic about what your employees are actually doing. In some cases, an employee considered exempt for overtime purposes could still qualify as a manual laborer under the law.
If you have any questions regarding this law, please reach out to PMP for more information.