New York’s Wage Theft Prevention Act does not apply retroactively to violations occurring before the April 2011 effective date (regardless of whether suit already had been filed or not), according to a decision from the Eastern District of New York. Quintanilla v. Suffolk Paving Corp., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132469 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 17, 2012). The Court joined the overwhelming majority of cases that have held the 100% penalty provision does not apply retroactively because it was a change in the law. In support of her holding, Judge Tomlinson noted all courts, except one, have refused to apply it retroactively. And as to that one minority decision, Judge Tomlinson found the court there failed to “cite any legislative history or other expression of legislative intent supporting retroactive application” and because Second Circuit precedent requires that a “remedial” statute have retroactive effect only based on a “‘clear’ expression of legislative intent” the absence of such evidence doomed Plaintiffs’ claim.
Retroactive application of the WTPA may remain a litigation issue, but with each passing workweek retroactivity becomes less significant. New violations are subject to the 100% penalty provision.