What is the SWEAT Bill?

Working with SWEAT, in June 2013, Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal introduced State Assembly Bill No. 8045 that will greatly improve workers’ ability to secure stolen wages. Then, Senator Peralta introduced the bill into the senate as State Senate Bill 6658.

The bill has three main components:

1. Expand New York’s mechanics’ lien law to include all workers – Establishes a “wage lien” so that workers can put a hold on employers’ property until their owed wages are paid. The measure would also create an alternative right of action by the DOL or NYS Attorney General to file a wage lien on behalf of claimants who they have determined are owed wages.

2. Hold employers’ assets before they run away – Allows workers to “attach” or hold an employer’s property prior to the resolution of a case that claims unpaid wages.

3. Hold the largest shareholders personally liable for wage theft – Makes it easier for workers of non- publicly traded companies to hold the employers with the largest share of ownership personally liable for wage theft.

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> Under existing law, if a home improvement worker (a mechanic or a gardener, for example) isn’t paid what she’s owed she can put a hold on her employer’s property called a “lien”. This makes it harder for the employer to sell that property, and makes it much more likely that the worker will be paid the money she is owed. We want to make that option available to other low wage workers, as well as expanding when and how it can be used.

>Currently, a worker’s lawyer can ask a judge to seize (take position of) an employer’s property during the course of a lawsuit: a process called “seeking attachment.” But the law only allows for this in very few circumstances. We want to expand the process, to make it more likely that the worker can get her money back if she wins a case in court.

>Some companies have “shareholders”, individual people who each own part of that company’s stock, making them co-owners of the company itself. We want to make it easier for a worker to hold these shareholders accountable when her wages are stolen by the company they own.