Legislation S.621B/A.4947B Amends the Penal Law to Add Criminal Corporate Liability for the Death or Serious Physical Injury of an Employee
On December 23, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation establishing Carlos' Law. The legislation (S.621B/A.4947B) amends the New York State Penal Law to increase the penalties for criminal corporate liability for the death or serious physical injury of an employee, a felony or misdemeanor, by a fine of up to $500,000.
Carlos' Law (S.621B/A.4947B) creates greater accountability for tragic and avoidable injury to workers at New York construction sites. Under the new legislation, a corporation is guilty of criminal corporate liability for the death or injury of a worker when it negligently, recklessly, intentionally, or knowingly causes the death or serious physical injury of its employees while they are on the job. The legislation is named after Carlos Moncayo, a 22-year-old construction worker who tragically died at a New York City construction site in 2015.
Governor Kathy Hochul enters the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany to take the oath of office and deliver an inaugural address on January 1, 2023. (IMAGE: DARREN MCGEE/ OFFICE OF GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL)
Pending chapter amendment
As the Building Trades Employers Association (BTEA) reports in its "Fast Four February 2023", at the same time the Governor issued an Approval Memorandum (#61) indicating an agreement with the Legislature to amend the bill in the form of a chapter amendment. According to the BTEA the Governor’s chapter amendment will make the following changes:
Penal Law section 10.10 is amended to add a new subdivision 22 to define ‘EMPLOYEE’ for purposes of sections 20.20 and 60.27 of the Penal Law. “Employee” will replace “worker’ in the underlying bill.
Penal Law section 20.20 (2)(c), titled Criminal liability of corporations, will be amended by adding subparagraph (iv) to include “is in relation to a crime involving the death or serious physical injury of an employee where the corporation acted negligently, recklessly, intentionally or knowingly.”
Penal Law section 60.27 (Restitution and reparation) is amended to allow the court to order restitution and reparation in excess of the statutory limits in cases involving death or serious physical injury of an employee.
Penal Law section 80.10 (Fines for corporations) is amended to limit the amount of fines that may be assessed against corporations adjudged guilty of crimes in connection with the death or severe physical injury of an employee.
Felony: fixed by the court not to exceed $500,000 (bill in chief set range at $500,000-$1,000,000)
Misdemeanor: fixed by the court not to exceed $300,000 (bill in chief set at $300,000 - $500,000)
"A new layer of accountability"
"Construction workers are the engine that keep our economy moving, and they deserve strong protections under the law," Governor Hochul said at the signing of the legislation. "This legislation will add a new layer of accountability for safety protocols and will establish important protections for the individuals who do this vital, difficult, and often dangerous work. I thank the bill sponsors for their partnership in getting this done, and I hope that this provides a measure of comfort to the family and loved ones of Carlos." 🀰