Wage Theft Is Now a Larceny in New York

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Senior Legal Editor

September 8, 2023

Certain wage theft can now qualify as a larceny under New York law, meaning employers that intentionally work to permanently deprive workers of the wages they are due may face stronger penalties up to and including prison time.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on September 6 signed into law legislation (S2832-A/A154-A) that adds wage theft to the penal code's definition of larceny. Wage theft means obtaining property by hiring a person to perform services and then failing to pay the minimum wage and any overtime due, or a promised wage if it is greater than the minimum wage and overtime - .

The law also allows prosecutors to aggregate all wage theft from one person or from a workforce into one larceny count, even if the wage theft occurred in multiple counties.

Wage theft in New York accounts for almost $3.2 billion in lost wages each year, according to Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, one of the bill's co-sponsors.

"This legislation will help to ensure that all New Yorkers receive the benefits and protections that allow them to work with dignity," Hochul said. "My administration is committed to making our state the most worker-friendly state in the nation, and I thank the bill sponsors for their partnership in our mission to establish the strongest and most robust protections right here in New York." 

The law took effect immediately on signing.

An existing law, the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA), already requires employers to notify new employees about their rate of pay and other information no later than 10 days after hire.