Court of Appeals Rules that Seizure of New York Resident’s Lottery Prize is Barred Under the Fair Labor Standards Act

On November 19, 2015, the New York State Court of Appeals decided that the seizure of half of New York resident Walter Carver’s $10,000 lottery prize was barred by the Fair Labor Standards Act. NCLEJ authored the friend of the court brief on behalf of the New York City Legal Aid Society, MFY Legal Services, and many others.

Carver, a 69-year-old Vietnam War veteran, received public assistance through New York City’s Work Experience Program (WEP) between 1993 and 2000. He received $176 in cash welfare benefits every two weeks plus food stamps for working 35 hours a week. The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance attempted to claim half of Carver’s winnings based on a law that entitles the state to seize up to half of lottery prizes over $600 won by welfare recipients in order to reimburse tax payers.

NCLEJ’s amicus brief argued that due to Carver’s participation in WEP, the interception of his prize was barred by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which protects individuals working in exchange for welfare benefits and food stamps. The court’s decision ensures that New York residents who work government-assigned jobs in exchange for welfare must be paid in accordance with federal minimum wage standards.

Read the decision here.

For more information, see press coverage in New York Law Journal (subscription), New York Daily News, and Courthouse News Service.