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New York builders protest labor law protecting employee rights

New York construction firms and building associations are protesting State Labor Law 240, also known as the scaffold law. They complain the law is not fair, and that the outcome of a negligent injury claim is already predetermined. However, the law is designed to protect employee rights to compensation following an accident on the job.

Building associations and construction firms are against the scaffold law, claiming it is unfairly skewed in favor of the worker. They say the law implies that if an injury occurs at a construction site, the employee is already considered the winner, and the case is merely played out to decide how much money the settlement would include. Contractors and builders state 240 overlooks other pertinent factors such as safety violations on the job, equipment failure, or a worker with impaired judgment. They say it ignores whether the worker was complying with standard work protocol or following a supervisor's direct orders. They have compared the law to a Super Bowl football game in which thousands of fans already know which side has won. The game is played only so that the final score can be recorded and winners can be paid.

Thus far, New York is the only state with such a labor law that promotes advocacy of employee rights. Construction owners predict the law will hike up insurance premiums as companies need to dole out more money for their claims. Some insurance companies might not write policies, and those insurers who do, may stipulate additional indemnities, which in turn, could lead to increased rates.

Those opposed to the law contend smaller businesses will bear the brunt of the expensive premiums, and assert reform of this labor law will still allow a legitimately injured worker to receive just workers' compensation.

While Labor Law 240 may be controversial, it is an undeniable fact that construction workers in New York face a great risk of work-related injuries. Labor laws are designed to protect employee rights, especially those engaged in dangerous daily work. Labor Law 240 works to establish the premise that building and construction companies be held accountable if they do not follow stringent labor laws designed to protect its workers.

Source: crainsnewyork.com, "State must amend onerous scaffold law" Frank Naso and Lawrence Rosano, Feb. 02, 2014

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