New York State Labor Law

The New York State Labor Law comprises a wide variety of statutes that protect workers throughout the state of New York, applicable to all employers.  These protections include minimum wage and overtime rules, similar to the federal FLSA but more extensive and detailed and with a higher minimum wage.  The state labor law also imposes stringent wage notice and recordkeeping requirements, the violation of which can lead to statutory fines and civil penalties.  Some of the other major provisions are summarized below:

Labor Law § 161:  Provides, in part, that domestic workers “shall be allowed at least twenty-four consecutive hours of rest in each and every calendar week,” but such workers may agree to work on their day of rest “at the overtime rate for all hours worked on such day of rest.”  “In addition, after one year of work with the same employer a domestic worker shall be entitled to at least three days of rest in each calendar year at the regular rate of compensation.”

Labor Law § 162:  Provides, in part, that workers “in a mercantile or other establishment or occupation” “shall be allowed at least thirty minutes for the noon day meal,” to be taken at any time between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., if they work a shift of more than six hours that extends over the noon day meal period.  If a worker’s shift begins before 11:00 a.m. and extends past 7:00 p.m., then the worker is entitled to an additional meal period of at least twenty minutes between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Labor Law § 191(1)(c):  Provides, in part, that any agreement between an employer and a commissioned salesperson “shall be reduced to writing, signed by both the employer and the commission salesperson, kept on file by the employer for a period not less than three years  . . . . Such writing shall include a description of how wages, salary, drawing account, commissions and all other monies earned and payable shall be calculated.  Where the writing provides for a recoverable draw, the frequency of reconciliation shall be included.  Such writing shall also provide details pertinent to payment of wages, salary, drawing account, commissions and all other monies earned and payable in the case of termination of employment by either party.”

Labor Law § 194:  Provides, like the federal Equal Pay Act, that “No employee shall be paid a wage at a rate less than the rate at which an employee of the opposite sex in the same establishment is paid for equal work on a job the performance of which requires equal skill, effort and responsibility, and which is performed under similar working conditions, except where payment is made pursuant to a differential based on: a. a seniority system; b. a merit system; c. a  system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or d. any other factor other than sex.”

Labor Law § 201-c:  Provides, in part, that adoptive parents must be treated the same as natural parents if an employer provides parental leave for the birth of a child; in such circumstances, adoptive parents are entitled to the same leave “following the commencement of the parent-child relationship.”

Labor Law § 201-d:  Provides that it is unlawful for an employer to “refuse to hire, employ or license, or to discharge from employment or otherwise discriminate against an individual in compensation, promotion or terms, conditions or privileges of employment” based on the employee’s (a) lawful off duty political activities; (b) lawful off duty use of “consumable products”; (c) lawful off duty “recreational activities”; and (d) membership in a union.

Labor Law § 202-i:  Provides that, “The spouse of a member of the armed forces of the United States, national guard or reserves who has been deployed during a period of military conflict, to a combat theater or combat zone of operations shall be allowed up to ten days unpaid leave by their employer.  Such leave shall only be used when such person’s spouse is on leave from the armed forces of the United States, national guard or reserves while deployed during a period of military conflict to a combat theater or combat zone of operations.”

Labor Law § 203-c:  Provides that, “No employer may cause a video recording to be made of an employee in a restroom, locker room, or room designated by an employer for employees to change their clothes, unless authorized by court order.”

Labor Law § 206-c:  Provides that, “An employer shall provide reasonable unpaid break time or permit an employee to use paid break time or meal time each day to allow an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for up to three years following child birth.  The employer shall make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location, in close proximity to the work area, where an employee can express milk in privacy.  No employer shall discriminate in any way against an employee who chooses to express breast milk in the work place.”

Labor Law § 215-c:  Provides that an employer may not “discharge or discriminate against any employee in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment for displaying an American flag on the employee’s person or work station, provided such display physically does not substantially or materially interfere with the employee’s job duties.”

Because the rules and procedures under the New York State labor law are complicated, an employee should discuss his or her workplace complaints promptly with a qualified employment lawyer.

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