On August 26, 2009, the New York State legislature amended the damages provision of New York’s “Payment of Wages” law, set forth in Article 6 of the Labor Law. Among other things, the amendment modifies the standard for recovering the 25% liquidated damages authorized by section 198 of the Labor Law.
Prior to the amendment, which takes effect on November 24, 2009, employees alleging violations of the wage payment provisions of Article 6 had to prove that the employer’s violation of the law was “willful” in order to recover liquidated damages.
The amendment appears to shift the burden of proof on this point directly upon the employer. Thus, in a case in which an employer is found to have violated New York’s Payment of Wages law, an employer will be required to pay liquidated damages, unless it can show that it acted in good faith and believed that its nonpayment of wages complied with the law.
Clearly, this amendment benefits employees, who will no longer need to demonstrate willfulness in order to recover liquidated damages under New York’s Labor Law.