Where Do I File a New York Employment Law Claim?

Submitted by pec on

New York State has a number of employment laws that help to protect employees from wage theft, discrimination in the workplace, wrongful termination, sexual harassment or retaliation by an employer. If you have suffered some sort of illegal action by your employer, you should file a complaint with one of the agencies that are described below. These agencies have the power to investigate a breach of state labor laws and can issue penalties including criminal charges against employers following an investigation. If a state or federal employment agency cannot resolve a complaint, you may be able to sue your employer through a civil court with the help of an employment law attorney.

New York State Department of Labor

The Department of Labor’s office will investigate any complaints of wage theft. Wage theft may be any of the following:

  • not being paid at least the minimum state wage;
  • not being paid correct overtime rates which are 50% more than the normal hourly wage;
  • not paid the rate agreed in a signed employment contract;
  • wages withheld at any time;
  • not paid wage supplements such as vacation pay, sick leave, reimbursement of expenses

Make sure you have evidence that you haven’t been paid the correct amount in wages, overtime, or wage supplements so that you can submit this with your claim. To file a complaint, use the form LS223 on the Department of Labor’s website. You can email the completed form to the Department of Labor’s Division of Labor Standards, or you can mail it to the correct address in Albany. The Department will investigate properly completed complaint forms. In New York, an employer who has been found to have been in breach of state labor laws could have committed a misdemeanor offense.

New York Division of Human Rights

The New York Division of Human Rights (DHR) is the state agency that enforces anti-discrimination laws and laws that protect employees from retaliation or wrongful termination by an employer. For employees in New York City, use the equivalent agency which is the New York City Human Rights Commission. Federal laws that protect employees from workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination or retaliation are almost identical to the state’s own laws, so you can use either a state agency or the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), the equivalent federal agency, to file a complaint, but note that the latter only handles complaints by employees in workplaces with 15 or more employees.

To file a complaint, use the form available on the DHR website. You can either mail or email the completed form to the agency. Attach any evidence you have that supports your complaint. The more relevant evidence you submit, the more likely it will be that your case will get investigated thoroughly.

Once a complaint form has been received, an investigation will commence. This can take several months. A public hearing will be held if the agency believes that there the evidence shows that a breach of the state’s laws has probably occurred.

New York City Commission on Human Rights

The New York City Commission on Human Rights acts on complaints of discrimination at work, retaliation, sexual harassment and wrongful termination that occur within the confines of New York City. Laws that protect employees in New York City are the same as those in the rest of New York State. The Commission will not investigate complaints that have also been filed with another agency such as the New York DHR or the EEOC. You should file your complaint in person at the Reade Street, Lower Manhattan office.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The EEOC is the federal equivalent of the two state anti-discrimination agencies. The EEOC only has two offices in New York State, one in Buffalo, the other in New York State.

To file a complaint with the EEOC, you can do so through the agency’s online portal, in person at an EEOC office, or by phone. Phone contact is only to determine whether the complaint can be investigated by the agency and must be followed up by filing online or in person.

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