On June 28, 2012, the New York City Council, by a vote of 46 to 5, overrode Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, Local Law 37 of 2012 (the “New York City Fair Wages Act,” the “Fair Wages Act,” the “Act,” or the “NYCFWA”). The Fair Wages Act, effective September 26, 2012, requires companies or individuals who receive, from the City of New York or from a City economic development entity, financial assistance of one million dollars or more (to improve or develop real property, to develop economically, to retain or create jobs, or for other similar purposes) to pay their workers a “living wage” rate of not less than $10.00 per hour with health benefits or of $11.50 per hour without health benefits.
The wage rate required by the New York City Fair Wages Act is well in excess of the federal minimum wage and the New York State minimum wage. The federal minimum wage and the New York State minimum wage are each $7.25 per hour.
The Fair Wages Act applies not only to companies or individuals who receive, from New York City or from a City economic development entity, financial assistance of $1 million or more, but also to any entity or person who contracts or subcontracts with such a financial assistance recipient to perform, for the financial assistance recipient, work for a period of more than 90 days on the recipient’s premises or on the premises of property improved or developed with $1 million or more of the City’s financial assistance.
Under the Act, the workers, to whom companies or persons receiving, from New York City, financial assistance of $1 million or more must pay at least $10.00 per hour with benefits or of $11.50 per hour without benefits, include employees, independent contractors, and contingent workers, including individuals made available to work through a temporary staffing agency. Further, the Act entitles such workers to wages of not less than $10.00 per hour with benefits or of $11.50 per hour without benefits whether those workers perform work on a full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal basis.
The New York City Fair Wages Act exempts, among other employers, “small business[es],” which the NYCFWA defines as entities which have annual gross revenues of less than five million dollars.
However, unlike those provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the implementing regulations establishing the federal minimum wage, the Fair Wages Act sets forth no exemptions from its “living wage” rate for employees employed as bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees.
The NYCFWA confers, on any worker whom a covered employer pays less than $10.00 per hour with health benefits or of $11.50 per hour without health benefits, a cause of action against the employer for compensatory and punitive damages, appropriate injunctive relief and, if the worker wins his lawsuit, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Under the Act, the limitation period for workers’ unpaid wages claims is three years.
Call the Law Offices of David S. Rich, LLC at (212) 209-3972 to speak with a knowledgeable labor and employment lawyer about ensuring that your company complies with overtime pay and other wage and hour laws, or to retain a skilled overtime attorney to defend your company in unpaid overtime lawsuits or other wage and hour litigation.