W.A. Harriman Campus,
Albany, NY 12240
The mission of the New York State Department of Labor is to protect workers, assist the unemployed and connect job seekers to jobs, according to its website. It works to ensure a fair wage for all workers, protect the safety and health of workers and the public, help the unemployed via temporary payments (unemployment insurance), link job seekers with employers, and guide workers to training. Its regulations are compiled in title 12 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations.
The New York State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB) is the state workforce development board required under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The department provides the board staff and is the WIOA funds administrator.
According to an audit released in June 2014 by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the Department of Labor does not complete many of its wage theft investigations in a timely manner. As of late August 2013, the DOL had more than 17000 open cases, consisting of about 9300 active investigations and more than 7800 cases pending payment, and of these almost 13000, or 75%, were at least one year old from initial claim date. In 2013, the DOL had 142 employees statewide, including 85-90 investigators, handling the complaints. By 2015, the caseload had been handled and 85% of investigations were being completed within 6 months. In 2015 alone, the agency had distributed a record $31.5 million to victims of wage theft.
In May 2015, acting labor commissioner Mario Musolino appointed a state wage board to investigate wages for fast food workers. In July, the board issued a report recommending a $15-an-hour minimum wage for fast food workers, and in September 2015 acting commissioner Musolino issued an order accepting the recommendations. Effective December 31, 2015, the department adopted amended codified regulations (in 12 NYCRR part 146) implementing the report and order.
In 2015, Roberta Reardon, a former AFL-CIO and SAG-AFTRA official, was nominated as the state labor commissioner, and was confirmed by the Senate on June 15, 2016. In 2009, M. Patricia Smith, who later became the Solicitor of the United States Department of Labor, was the labor commissioner. Frances Perkins, who later became the U.S. Secretary of Labor and the first female cabinet member, was the first labor commissioner.