New York Dairy Farm Workers Gain $150K in Unpaid Wages

May 23, 2023

A settlement in New York in a wage theft case has resulted in two dairy farm workers receiving nearly $150,000 in back wages.

The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) said its investigators found that Lewis County dairy farm Hancor Holsteins had failed to pay its workers the overtime wages they were owed for nearly two years. The farm workers were not being paid overtime for hours worked past 60 hours per week as required by the Farm Laborer Fair Practice Act.

The two farm workers filed complaints claiming they were not paid for overtime hours worked for the period from January 1, 2020, through December 12, 2021. Over the course of the investigation, Hancor Holsteins admitted that it altered payroll records to reduce actual hours worked as a way to avoid paying overtime.

Both workers received more than $74,000 each to compensate for the underpayment.

New York State’s Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act established that, as of January 2020, all farm workers must be paid one and a half times the regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 60 hours in a calendar week.

The law also created the Farm Laborers Wage Board, which in 2022 recommended lowering the current 60-hour threshold for overtime pay to 40 hours per week over a 10-year phase-in period, beginning in 2024. NYSDOL has adopted the new labor overtime regulations. The gradual reduction in the overtime pay threshold will begin on January 1, 2024, with the threshold set at 56 hours. The process will continue with the overtime threshold limit reducing by four hours every other year until reaching 40 hours in 2032.

Over the past decade, NYSDOL says it has recovered more than $360 million in stolen wages, identified over a million misclassified workers, and assessed over $400 million owed in unemployment insurance contributions through both criminal cases and civil enforcement.