New York Law Prohibits Discrimination Because of Wage Assignment or Income Execution

A specific New York state law, N.Y. CPLR § 5252, prohibits discrimination against employees and prospective employees based on wage assignment or income execution.

One commentator explains the purpose of this law:

CPLR 5252 was added to discourage employers from dismissing employees solely because of income executions or wage assignments served on the employer. An employer, chagrined by the inconvenience of having to make the deductions necessitated by an income execution or wage assignment (CPLR 5231), would occasionally fire an employee against whom one issued. CPLR 5252 seeks to discourage that.

That law provides, in part:

1. No employer shall discharge, lay off, refuse to promote, or discipline an employee, or refuse to hire a prospective employee, because one or more wage assignments or income executions have been served upon such employer or a former employer against the employee’s or prospective employee’s wages or because of the pendency of any action or judgment against such employee or prospective employee for nonpayment of any alleged contractual obligation. In addition to being subject to the civil action authorized in subdivision two of this section, where any employer discharges, lays off, refuses to promote or disciplines an employee or refuses to hire a prospective employee because of the existence of one or more income executions and/or income deduction orders issued pursuant to [CPLR 5241] or [CPLR 5242], the court may direct the payment of a civil penalty not to exceed five hundred dollars for the first instance and one thousand dollars per instance for the second and subsequent instances of employer or income payor discrimination. The penalty shall be paid to the creditor and may be enforced in the same manner as a civil judgment or in any other manner permitted by law.

The statute also provides (among other things) that “[a]n employee or prospective employee may institute a civil action for damages for wages lost as a result of a violation of this section within ninety days after such violation” but that “[d]amages recoverable shall not exceed lost wages for six weeks and in such action.” (Emphasis added.)

Therefore, if you believe you have a claim under this statute, you must act quickly, in light of the relatively-short (90-day) statute of limitations, in order to preserve your rights.