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Is New York a Right to Work State?

Founding Member of Moshes Law, P.C.
During his years of practice, Yuriy has concentrated in litigation and real estate transactions as his areas of expertise.

is ny a right to work state

When it comes to New York state labor laws, New York is very serious about its citizens who work in the state of New York.  Compared to other states around the country, New York is a leader when it comes to employment rights.  Accordingly, there are a number of employment laws that protect its residents as a condition of employment work law.  In its pursuit to support employees and union workers, one law that New York does not abide by is the right to work.  The right-to-work law, which is also known as the Workplace Freedom or Workplace Choice law, grants workers the right to choose whether or not they’d like to join a union in their workplace.  

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If a business is already unionized, it also makes it optional for a non-union member to pay their union dues and other membership fees, even if they ultimately decide not to join the union. New York is not a right-to-work state, meaning that labor unions can require employees to pay union dues as a condition for employment, even if they choose not to participate in those unions. This article will explore employee rights in New York, including what you need to know about labor unions, and how an employment law attorney can assist you.

New York State Employee Rights

In addition to supporting union workers, if an employee works, there are other New York state employee rights that the State of New York abides by.  These include the following:

New York Labor Law

Under New York Labor Law, employers must provide their workers in New York state at least 24 consecutive hours rest in any calendar week. Under Section 161 of the New York State Labor Law, this includes such employers as those operating factories, mercantile establishments, hotels, and restaurants. 

According to the New York state department, if an employee works 8 or more consecutive hours, the employer must provide a 30-minute break and an additional 15-minute break for every additional 4 consecutive hours worked.

According to the New York State Department of Labor in New York City, the minimum wage is currently $13.50 per hour for businesses with 10 or fewer employees, and it’s $15.00 per hour for businesses with 11 or more employees.  However, in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties, it is $12.00 per hour and, in the remainder of the state, it is $11.10 per hour.

When it comes to overtime wages, New York labor laws require an employer to pay overtime to employees, unless otherwise exempt, at the rate of 1½ times, the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.

There are no minimum hours an employer can ask an employee to work in NY.  However, if the employee is a child under 18, then there are restrictions.

Union Protection Laws

New York does possess favorable union protection laws.  The New York supreme court has held that although union membership is not mandatory, if a union exists on behalf of the employees, even if the employee decides not to join the union, they still have to pay for the union dues and mandatory fees related to the union and its union members.  

New York Paid Family Leave

According to the New York Paid Family Leave Act, as of 2020, eligible employees can take up to 10 weeks of Paid Family Leave. This means that employees taking Paid Family Leave will get 60% of their average weekly wage, up to a cap of 60% of the current Statewide Average Weekly Wage of $1,401.70.

Employees may take leave under the following conditions:


    1. to provide care for a family member made necessary by a serious health condition 

    1. to bond with the employee’s child within the first 12 months of birth or adoptive placement

    1. to assist the family if the employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent is on active duty in the armed forces of the United States.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also protects most employees on workers compensation in New York.  Although the FMLA doesn’t provide pay and benefits, the New York worker’s compensation board has stated that having a work comp claim does protect an employee’s right to return to their job within twelve weeks of when they were injured.

New York Whistleblower Laws

Under New York Whistleblower Laws, New York does protect employees in a broad range of industries, including health care.  There are whistleblower laws that protect healthcare workers who report deficient patient care. The most common type of whistleblowing cases involve a provider’s submission of fraudulent claims for reimbursement to government healthcare programs, such as MedicareMedicaid, and Tricare. 

Under New York Whistleblower Laws, an employer is not supposed to take any retaliatory action against you for engaging in lawful “whistleblowing.”  Such lawful whistleblowing steps include:


    1. Performing an investigation or trying to stop or prevent fraud.

    1. Reporting misconduct internally within your company or externally outside of your company.

    1. Formal complaint or starting a lawsuit.

    1. Helping governmental authorities.

The statute of limitations for a whistleblower claim is one year and employees who successfully prove that they were retaliated against can recover back pay; however, they cannot recover compensatory or punitive damages

New York State Human Rights Law

In order to prevent privileges of employment, under the New York State Human Rights Law, employment discrimination is illegal when it comes to certain “suspect classes.”  Not all forms of discrimination are illegal, however.  Only certain forms, called suspect classes, are illegal.  These include age, creed, color, racial discrimination in New York, national origin discrimination, sexuality, gender, and religion.

New York and the federal government both prohibit the above discrimination both in the public and private sectors.  

Since the employer may do everything in its power to defend against such discriminatory allegations against them, it is best to consult with an employment law attorney so that they can analyze the facts of the case.  Such cases are very fact-specific.  Accordingly, an New York labor lawyer can review the facts to best argue your case.

New York Temporary Disability Insurance Law

Unlike most states, New York is one of a handful of states that require employers to provide disability benefits coverage to employees for an off-the-job injury or illness.  In order to promote public health or safety, under New York Temporary Disability Insurance Law, unlike a workers compensation claim in which an employee is paid temporary total disability benefits due to an on-the-job injury, these disability benefits are temporary cash benefits paid to an eligible wage earner, when he/she is disabled by an off the job injury or illness.  Under such laws, all employers are required to have this type of temporary disability insurance and any such claim must be turned into their insurance carrier.

What Are Right To Work Laws In New York City

What is right to work laws? Both federal and state statutes have established union protections, including right-to-work laws, which are explicitly anti union. These laws prevent employers from discriminating against job applicants and current employees who opt not to join the union. However, non-union workers are still entitled to enjoy the same salary and terms negotiated by the union, and in certain instances, they may even necessitate union representation.

New York City passes right to work, which means that in New York, union membership, including payment of monthly dues, may be obligatory for employees whose compensation and other terms have been negotiated by the union.

new york state labor laws

NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law

Effective September 30, 2020, under the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, employers must allow employees to use safe and sick leave as it is accrued so that they are entitled to paid leave.  This means that they may list on their pay stubs the amounts of accrued and used leave and the total balance of accrued leave.

NYC Fair Workweek Law

Under NYC fair workweek law, fast food employees working in NYC are entitled to predictable scheduling and notice of work schedules, minimum time between shifts, and access to hours.  In addition, all employees working in NYC at a covered retail business are entitled to on-call scheduling.

Regardless of immigration status, all employees are covered under the NYC Fair Workweek law.  

NYC Temporary Schedule Change Law

Under NYC temporary schedule change law, employers are required to grant a “temporary change” to hour worked, times, or locations of work to accommodate a worker’s “personal event,” whether they are partial or full time.  Employees have the right to two temporary schedule changes per year.  This includes up to one business day per request, or two business days for one request.

What About Undocumented Workers Rights NYC

New York tries to protect its workers, including those undocumented.  When it comes to undocumented worker’s rights in NYC, employers must still adhere to the rights of undocumented workers the same as if they were documented workers.  This means that if the employer offers health insurance to its employees, these benefits must be for both undocumented as well as documented.  Similarly, the employer must offer the same sick leave benefits to all of its employees, regardless of whether they are documented or not.

Any employment benefit or right that is available to documented workers must also be available to undocumented workers, including worker’s compensation benefits.  Accordingly, if an employee of a restaurant who happens to be illegal sustains an on-the-job injury, they are entitled to file a worker’s compensation claim against their employer and are entitled to all of the benefits that filing a claim entails.  

Or, if an employee is illegal but is discriminated against by their employer because of the employee’s legal status, an employment law attorney can still fight for their equal benefits under the law. 

If you are undocumented and have questions about what your employment rights are, it is best to seek counsel from an experienced employment law attorney.

Contact Employee Rights Lawyer If Your Rights Are Breaks

Even though there are various federal and state laws available to protect an employee’s rights, New York is a state in which its laws are specifically geared toward providing employee job protection when it comes to its unions.  Due to the fact that there are so many New York laws governing employment law, staying up-to-date on all of the current laws can be overwhelming.  Accordingly, it is very important to talk over your case with an employee rights lawyer who can discuss your case and analyze the individual facts of your case to determine how strong a case you have and what you need to do to make it even stronger.

Law Office of Yuriy Moshes

A qualified employment law attorney from the Law Office of Yuriy Moshes can provide you a free consultation about your rights and how strong a case you may have.  Their law offices help wrongfully terminated employees in the New York City area including all its boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island) as well as Northern New Jersey, Long Island, and Upstate New York.

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