Can my employer really deduct that from my wages?

The answer is probably not. New York employers should be very wary of the type of wages they withhold from employees, since certain deductions are in violation of § 193 of the New York Labor Law. § 193 of the New York Labor Law prohibits all deductions other than those expressly identified therein.  If an employer chooses to make prohibited deductions, the penalty is severe.  The violating employer is required to  pay compensatory damages equal to the illicit deduction, 25 percent liquidated damages if the violation was willful, in addition to attorney’s fees.  Additionally, § 198-a of the New York Labor Law  provides for criminal penalties for violation of article 6, which includes § 193. In order to ensure your rights are not being violated, it is imperative you carefully examine your pay-stubs to see if any deductions were made in violation of the law.

§ 193 of the New York Labor Law provides that:

1. No employer shall make any deduction from the wages of an employee, except deductions which:

a.  Are made in accordance with the provisions of any law or any rule or regulation issued by any governmental agency; or

b. Are expressly authorized in writing by the employee and are for the benefit of the employee; provided that such authorization is kept on file on the employer’s premises. Such authorized deductions shall be limited to payments for insurance premiums, pension or health and welfare benefits, contributions to charitable organizations, payments for United States bonds, payments for dues or assessments to a labor organization, and similar payments for the benefit of the employee.

It must be noted that § 193 only applies to “wages.” § 190(1)  of the New York Labor Law defines “wages” as:

The earnings of an employee for labor or services rendered, regardless of whether the amount of earnings is determined on a time, piece, commission or other basis. The term “wages” also includes benefits or wage supplements as defined in section one hundred ninety-eight-c of this article, except for the purposes of sections one hundred ninety-one and one hundred ninety-two of this article.

Wages do not apply to discretionary additional remuneration, which is not considered “wages” under the statute.  This would include compensation which is contingent and discretionary, such as bonuses paid out at the end of the year based on performance.

Additionally, in many cases, if one employee is being deprived of their fair share of wages, other equally situated employees are being deprived as well.  This is when a class-action suit against the violating employer is employed.  Employees should remain vigilant, and unify if necessary to combat illicit employment practices in connection with wage deductions.

If you believe you have been a victim of  illegal wage deductions, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Risman & Risman, P.C. at (212) 233-6400 or contact us online.

 

 

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