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Understanding New York Employment and Labor Laws is important as people are facing different kinds of problems in the workplace.  For every 100,000 employees in New York in 2021, 19 filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC also handled 40,550 discrimination charges from the state from 2009 to 2019. As such, the state has been bolstering its laws to combat workplace harassment. For instance, New York City has approved a bill banning workplace discrimination due to one’s weight and height.

Additionally, the state continues to ensure the implementation of the standards set by OSHA and the New York State Division of Safety and Health. These include the DOSH’s nine programs for a safe and healthy workplace. Safety standards and worker protections have been a priority in New York since the catastrophic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, which caused the deaths of 146 people, most of whom were young women. This tragedy was a catalyst for establishing and strengthening employment and labor laws throughout the country.

In 1911, a catastrophic fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Greenwich Village. The lack of worker protection and workplace safety standards in New York at the time caused the deaths of 146 people, most of whom were young women. As a response to the tragic incident, employment and labor laws throughout the country were established and strengthened.

If you believe your worker rights have been violated by your employer, reading this article would be a good place to start to figure out your next step. It offers a comprehensive view of the state’s employment laws on wages and hours, discrimination, and wrongful termination, as well as its labor laws related to unions. You can also find a list of resources relevant to the subject.

New York Wage and Hour Laws

Minimum Wage

In New York, the minimum wage depends on which region one is located in. New York City, Long Island, and Westchester observe a $15 minimum wage. Meanwhile, in the other parts of the state, workers should be paid at least $14.20.

A different set of rules governs service employees and food service workers, who have a lower minimum cash wage of $9.45 to $12.50. This is augmented by a tip credit collected from customers, which ranges from $2.35 to $5.

Take note that these are the rates as of 2022, and they are bound to see an increase come 2024. A business found to be in violation of the state’s minimum wage regulations faces up to $2,074 in fines.

Speaking of wages, New York has passed a wage transparency law affecting employers with four or more workers. They are required to include salary ranges when posting job ads. On the other hand, the salary history ban forbids them from inquiring about a job applicant’s compensation and benefits from their prior work.

Wage Payment

In accordance with the law, most employees in New York are typically paid biweekly based on their employer’s scheduled pay period. Meanwhile, manual laborers should be paid once a week and salespeople working on commissions should receive their earnings once a month.

Workers who have left their jobs — whether voluntarily or not — should expect to receive their final pay in the next pay period.

Payroll Deductions

To prevent employers from taking advantage of their workers, New York only allows certain wage deductions. These include voluntary and authorized payments such as:

  • Pension;

  • Insurance premiums;

  • Transportation benefits;

  • Food and lodging benefits;

  • Labor union dues.

Meanwhile, it is prohibited to make deductions on an employee’s wage for things like the following:

  • The cost of equipment, tools, and outfit required to perform a job;

  • Repayment for cash shortages;

  • Punishment for instances of tardiness and excessive amounts of leaves.

Overtime Rules

As a general rule, New Yorkers are paid 1.5 times their regular wage for hours worked beyond 40 hours in a week. Per the Fair Labor Standards Act, some examples of “hours worked” are on-call time, short rest periods, and travel time from one job site to another. However, one’s regular travel time from home to work and then back home cannot be counted as hours worked.

Based on federal and state laws, certain categories of workers are not required to be granted overtime pay. These include:

  • Administrative, executive, and professional employees (with some exceptions);

  • Federal, state, and municipal employees (with some exceptions);

  • Taxi drivers;

  • Farm laborers;

  • Employees of student and faculty associations;

  • Employees of fraternity and sorority organizations;

  • Part-time babysitters.

An employer who does not abide by the state’s overtime rules may be penalized with a fine of up to $2,074. 

Sick and Safe Leaves

Sick leaves pertain to time off work due to a health condition, illness, or injury. Meanwhile, a worker may take a safe leave as protection from domestic violence, sexual offenses, human trafficking, stalking, or any similar reason.

The following sick and safe leave requirements should be observed by employers in New York based on the number of their employees:

Number of Employees

Required Hours of Sick Leave

Four or fewer (if net income is $1 million or less)

Up to 40 hours (unpaid)

Four or fewer (if net income is over $1 million)

Up to 40 hours (paid)

Five to 99

Up to 40 hours (paid)

100 or more

Up to 56 hours (paid)

These sick and safe leaves may only be granted to workers who have completed at least 80 hours of work in a year. However, employees in the state are not entitled to holiday or vacation leaves, no matter how long they have been working in their current job.

New York Workplace Safety Laws

Employers in New York — no matter the industry they belong to — are responsible for complying with OSHA and DOSH regulations. These include observing general safety standards to keep work areas free from harm.

The obligation of employers extends to addressing any issues that may arise in the workplace. These may be in the form of asbestos abatement, boiler inspection, mold remediation, or even a simple garbage cleanup. But if a hazard has not been taken care of yet, workers must be made aware of it to prevent accidents.

However, in the event that an incident does occur and it leads to injury or death, there are important steps that need to be taken. For one, a report must be submitted to OSHA within eight hours (for cases of work-related deaths) or within 24 hours (for cases of work-related eye loss, amputation, or hospitalization).

To avoid accidents, ensure a safe workplace for everyone, and avoid penalties, businesses can take advantage of New York’s free on-site consultation program. Note that penalties from OSHA may be up to $13,653 per violation, while fines for repeated and deliberate offenses can go as high as $136,532.

New York Workplace Discrimination and Harassment Laws

New York upholds the right of people to have equal work opportunities and a secure working environment by establishing several protected categories based on different factors, such as:

  • Age;

  • Race;

  • Color;

  • Religion;

  • Origin or citizenship;

  • Immigration status;

  • Sex and sexual orientation;

  • Gender identity or expression;

  • Disability;

  • Marital status.

This means any form of harassment toward workers in these protected categories is considered discrimination. Some examples of discrimination include:

  • Refusing to make easily achievable wheelchair ramp modifications to accommodate an employee with mobility impairment;

  • Prohibiting a worker from using any bathroom in the office because they identify as transgender;

  • Not allowing a worker to take a break to observe their religion’s prayer time.

The EEOC further specifies that a worker has a right to not be discriminated against, starting from their job application up to their last day at work.

Laws on Labor Unions in New York

A union, within the context of a workplace, refers to a collective made up of two or more employees. A union’s mission is to protect the rights of its members by making sure their employer is not violating their workers rights and taking advantage of them.

Thanks to the National Labor Relations Act, labor unions in New York and all over the country are allowed to exist, and employees are able to enjoy the following rights:

  • Utilize collective bargaining through worker representatives to further their cause;

  • Submit complaints regarding substandard working conditions to the proper channel, which may be their own union, their employer, or a particular government agency;

  • Form picket lines and conduct rallies (with limitations).

In other states, workers are not required to join the union in their company. However, since New York is not a right-to-work state, an employee may be required to be a part of their company’s union. A typical upside to this is in the form of more competitive pay and benefits since having more union members leads to greater collective bargaining power.

Required Posters in New York Workplaces

According to the New York State Labor Law, various types of posters and notices must be displayed in workplaces in the state. These include:

  • An Employee Rights, Protections, and Obligations notice;

  • A Minimum Wage poster;

  • An Equal Pay Provision notice;

  • A Requirements for Fringe Benefits and Hours notice;

  • A Wage Theft Prevention Act notice.

Certain posting requirements are also present for particular sectors. For instance, employers in the construction industry must display a notice about the Fair Play Act in their workplaces. Meanwhile, government agencies must have a “You have a right to know!” poster for all their employees to see.

Is New York an At-Will Employment State?

Yes, New York is an at-will state. This means state law allows employers to fire their workers for whatever reason at any time, as long as no discriminatory or unlawful act is involved. At the same time, employees can freely quit their work without notice whenever they want to.

However, New York’s at-will rules have an implied contract exemption — an employee cannot be terminated without good reason if they have an agreement with their employer against such an act. This contract protection can also be in the form of an employee handbook or implied by the way the employer acts.

What Qualifies as Wrongful Termination in New York?

Firing a person because they belong to a protected category is not just one form of discrimination; it is also an example of wrongful termination.

Other unjustifiable and illegal reasons to fire someone include the following situations:

  • Filing a workers’ compensation claim after incurring an injury or occupational disease;

  • Being an active member of the company’s labor union;

  • Taking paid family leave to take care of one’s newborn child;

  • Fulfilling one’s jury duty obligations;

  • Being part of a particular political party.

Additionally, firing a whistleblower after they have reported any labor law violations committed by their employer is usually classified as both wrongful termination and retaliation.

But because New York is an at-will employment state, there are cases where terminating an employee without contract protection may be deemed unfair but is not technically unlawful. Some instances where this is possible include:

  • Being disliked by one’s superior for no apparent reason;

  • Having one’s role taken by a family member of the company’s owner;

  • Engaging in a brawl with another employee who, for some reason, is not let go by the company too.

Mass layoffs are not illegal either. However, per the New York State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, an employer should provide notice at least 90 days before conducting a mass layoff.

How Do You Report an Employer in New York for Wrongful Termination?

Most cases of wrongful termination are related to discrimination. If you have been illegally let go by your company for this reason, know that there are different ways to alert the authorities about such a matter.

One way is by submitting a filled-out complaint form and any supporting documents to the New York State Division of Human Rights through:

If the DHR office you reach out to is not planning to escalate the matter to the EEOC, you may directly file a charge of discrimination with the commission. This charge refers to a signed written statement claiming that your employer discriminated against you. It is important to know that there is a time limit to complete this action — you can only do so within a 180- or 300-day window. In some cases, you may only be given ​​45 days to take action.

If you want to file a lawsuit against your former employer, note that filing a charge of discrimination beforehand is necessary. Afterward, you may contact an experienced lawyer to start a wrongful termination case. They can let you know if you have enough cause to take the matter to court. Moreover, they can educate you about the dos and don’ts of taking legal action against someone.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Termination Cases in New York?

If you are a worker in New York and you got fired because you belong to a protected category, you have three years to file a discrimination-based wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer.

If your wrongful termination case involves a breach of contract, the statute of limitations defaults to six years. However, in some instances, the period for taking legal action may be specified in the contract itself.

Meanwhile, if you were wrongfully terminated after reporting your employer’s illegal practices to the authorities, the statute of limitations would depend on the situation. Some circumstances are laid out here:

Cause of Employer’s Retaliation/

Employee’s Wrongful Termination

Statute of Limitations for Filing a Case

Reporting employer’s violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act

Two years

Reporting employer’s violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act

Three years; Two years if the violation was not willful

Reporting employer’s violation of the New York State Human Rights Law

Three years

How Much Can Someone Sue an Employer in New York for Wrongful Termination?

Filing a civil case for wrongful termination means pursuing compensation for the losses caused by one’s former employer. These losses or damages can take several forms.

The economic or financial damages typically incurred from wrongful termination are lost wages and benefits. Meanwhile, emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, and reinstatement to one’s former role are classified as non-economic damages, or those difficult to quantify in monetary terms. Economic and non-economic losses are collectively referred to as compensatory damages.

Aside from these, attorney fees and costs are recoverable in successful New York employment lawsuits. In cases where an employer willfully violates an employee's rights, punitive damages may also be awarded.

In wrongful termination cases that involve discrimination, there is a limit to the amount of compensatory and punitive damages one can obtain based on the size of the business being sued:

Number of Employees

Damages Cap

15 to 100


101 to 200


201 to 500


Over 500


There are also times when a worker can only obtain liquidated damages, which are usually equal to the value of their back pay. Liquidated damages are allowed in some types of cases arising from wage violations and discrimination.

Resources for Employees in New York

It is possible that being wrongfully terminated by your employer has caught you off guard, and with the sudden lack of an income source and only a basic knowledge of the state’s labor and employment laws, things can get greatly overwhelming. Fortunately, there are various resources that you can easily access, and that will give you confidence in the next step to take.

The Office of the New York State Attorney General Resources Page

This state agency site has a page dedicated to workers’ rights in New York. Some of the subjects it tackles are termination, job safety, unemployment insurance, wages and pay, and workers’ compensation. Also prominently displayed on the site is a link button that leads to an employment-related complaint page, where one can report a business’s labor law violations.

The New York State Department of Labor - Labor Standards

The state’s labor standards are posted online for easy accessibility. It highlights the state’s laws regarding wages and hours, as well as various employer requirements and the employment of minors. It also discusses the issue of employer retaliation, including what it constitutes and how it can be reported. caters to low-income individuals located in the state of New York. Its pages on workers’ rights and discrimination give a comprehensive and easily digestible view of various issues that workers in the state face. It also lists the hotlines available to people dealing with employment problems. For a Spanish version of the site, go to

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