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Bill aims to shift power to wage theft victims

In any city, it's tough to make ends meet when you earn a minimum wage. In New York City, which was recently named by Business Insider Magazine as the most expensive U.S. city to live in, the majority of minimum wage earners live near or in poverty. However, workers' rights advocates are hopeful that the recent passage of the state's new minimum wage law will help raise the standards of living for thousands of New York City residents.

Employers have until 2018 to comply with the state's new minimum wage law which impacts employers with 10 or more workers and raises the minimum hourly wage to $15. Proponents of the minimum wage increase contend that the annual incomes of "more than one million low-income and poor residents" will be raised by an average of $10,000. While, the minimum wage increase can go a long way towards improving the economic standing of thousands of New York City residents, concerns remain about rampant wage theft.

In the wake of the passage of the $15 minimum wage bill, two New York City politicians introduced Assembly bill A5501C and Senate bill S2232 which, if passed, would provide workers who are victims of wage theft with additional options. For example, in the event that a worker won a Department of Labor judgment against a former employer, either the DOL or the plaintiff would be able to file a personal lien against the employer. Additionally, the bill would hold "major shareholders in a limited liability company liable" for the repayment of back wages.

Currently, employers who engage in acts of wage theft and then sell or close a business are off the hook for the repayment of back wages. However, the passage of this bill would make an employer, as well as a company's major shareholders, personally liable for the repayment of stolen wages.

Source: Times Union, "With minimum wage passed, advocates look to wage theft issue," Rick Karlin, April 4, 2016

New York Daily News, "How the $15 minimum wage may save lives," Mary Bassett, April 15, 2016

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