The Business Council of New York State, the State’s leading statewide business and industry association, opposes this legislation that would amend the Penal Law in relation to a person acting in a supervisory role on behalf of an employer.
This bill is unnecessary for a number of reasons. Rather than relying on existing statutes that protect workers it creates an overreaching law that while well-intended, creates a new focus on the criminal liability of supervisors in the workplace. Given the broadness of the language, we are concerned that the bill inadvertently reaches individuals outside of the direct chain of command of any given incident. The bill states “person in a supervisory role” and thus implies that most everyone on the work site in a managerial position is that liable person.
The phrase “acting in a supervisory role on behalf of an employer” can creates a linear progression from the subcontractor to the front line supervisor to the foreman to the construction company to the economic development company to the very owner and contracting entity. A strict interpretation of this proposed law would make any (and possible all) persons in the “supervisory role” subject to criminal liability.
The proposed law expands the Penal Law in dramatic fashion, placing the business community at serious risk beyond the civil liabilities already in the law. Small businesses could be disproportionately impacted due to the new penal law focus that will have upward pressure on the cost of insurance coverage, especially if supervisors will now have to all be insured for criminal defense on top of the various coverages, such as that for the Scaffold Law.
Like so many other legislative pursuits that impact construction in New York, this bill will disproportionately hurt small contractors and serve as an impediment to the entrance into the market of new contractors, particularly MWBE contractors.
For the above reasons, The Business Council opposes this legislation and urges its defeat.