Most workers in New York don’t realize that they are entitled to be paid every week. Bi-weekly pay can violate New York’s late payment law. The New York Labor Law requires so-called “manual workers” to be paid weekly, never later than seven calendar days after the end of the week in which wages were earned. Under this late payment law, most workers in New York cannot be paid on bi-weekly or semi-monthly schedules. Pechman Law Group has filed several bi-weekly pay cases, including lawsuits against the Cheesecake Factory and the Four Seasons Hotel.
The definition of “manual worker” is extremely broad. Section 191 of the New York labor law considers an employee who spends more than 25% of his or her working time performing physical work a “manual worker.” Physical work includes lifting, bending, installing, walking, running, turning, standing, and organizing. For example, a line cook in a restaurant is considered a “manual worker” because his job requires him to clean his station, lift and organize trays and plates, stir food in pots, walk in the line to pick up and stock cooking supplies, and cut vegetables and meat. But a sales worker in a store is also a “manual worker” because she has to lift, carry, and organize boxes, place items into boxes, stock shelves, walk, and stand. In other words, virtually all retail, restaurant, warehouse, supermarket, factory, and construction workers must be paid on a weekly basis, and if they are not paid that way, they are entitled to significant monetary damages.
Damages in late payment cases can be huge. The employee is owed all amounts paid later than seven days after the end of the workweek as liquidated damages. For example, a retail worker who stocks shelves in a store is paid on a bi-weekly basis. He is owed $800 for his first workweek and $800 for his second workweek. His employer pays him $1,600 four days after the end of the second week. The employer must pay the worker another $800 as liquidated damages, because that is the amount that was paid more than seven days after the end of the first workweek.
In New York, there are currently hundreds of employers who are paying their workers on a bi-weekly basis in violation of this late payment law. Violations of this pay frequency requirement has resulted in several settlements in excess of a million dollars, including a 29-million-dollar settlement with Walgreens. If you are a worker in New York being paid on a bi-weekly basis, you may be owed significant amounts in liquidated damages under New York’s late payment law.