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Just Thoughts is the blog of the Empire Justice Center, New York’s statewide, multi-issue, multi-strategy public interest law firm focused on changing the “systems” within which poor and low income families live. Here staff and guest authors will share stories, announcements and perspectives on timely issues related to our work.    

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The SWEAT Bill: Protect Workers from Wage Theft

While Empire Justice Center applauded Governor Cuomo for the administrative mandate requiring bonds for nail salons as an important first step, the need to protect all workers from businesses which regularly fail to pay their employees spans all industries and is a crisis across the state. 

The SWEAT bill – Securing Wages Earned Against Theft, A.5501a (Rosenthal)/S.2232c (Peralta) - operates similarly to a bond by creating a lien against an employer’s property when there is a case of unpaid wages.  This will ensure that a business can’t unload or transfer their assets, leaving workers empty handed when a court issues a judgment in the workers’ favor or when the Department of Labor issues orders in their favor. 

The challenges of finding bond companies willing to issue bonds to businesses known for their unscrupulous practices underscores the need for alternative methods to protect immigrant workers.  The SWEAT bill provides a critical tool to protect workers and good businesses against those businesses that exploit workers and steal salaries without facing any consequences.

Empire Justice Center looks forward to working with Governor Cuomo and the Legislature to pass this bill to protect all workers at risk of wage theft.