NY Authorities Charge Construction Firms with Wage Theft

The crackdown has identified about $1.2 million owed to nearly 400 workers, the New York State Department of Labor and Gov. Cuomo announced. "Every week, New Yorkers lose $20 million in unpaid wages," Manhattan DA Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said. "And every day, construction workers who risk their lives doing dangerous jobs have to wonder whether they'll actually be paid for their work."

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Dec. 4 announced the results to date of a regional crackdown on wage theft by construction contractors. The New York State Department of Labor and the district attorneys of all five New York City counties, along with New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, have brought criminal charges against some contractors as part of the operation.

Since Jan. 1, the department of Labor has referred egregious wage theft cases to prosecutors who have subsequently filed criminal charges. These referrals have resulted in indictments, felony complaints, or non-prosecution agreements stemming from investigations across several jurisdictions. Approximately $1.2 million owed to nearly 400 workers has been identified and assessed so far, with several cases still ongoing or nearing resolution. Nearly $700,000 has already been returned to workers, the agencies reported.

"New York believes in a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and has zero tolerance for those who seek to rob employees and deny them the wages they are rightfully owed," Cuomo said. "This crackdown sends a strong and direct message that workers will be protected and the principles of fairness and equality will continue to be upheld in this great state."

"The law is clear: New Yorkers are entitled to a fair day's pay for a fair day's work," added Schneiderman. "My office has zero tolerance for wage theft. Since 2011, we've recovered nearly $30 million in stolen wages for more than 21,000 workers, and we'll continue to ensure that New York's working families are given the fair shake they deserve."

The prosecuting attorneys who continue to participate in the crackdown include Schneiderman, Bronx DA Darcel D. Clark, Brooklyn DA-elect Eric Gonzalez, Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Nassau DA Madeline Singas, Queens DA Richard A. Brown, Richmond DA Michael E. McMahon, and Westchester DA Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr.

"Unscrupulous individuals must face the consequences of their actions, and Governor Cuomo has made it clear time and again: Stealing from hard-working New Yorkers is unacceptable," said Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. "Working together with the great prosecutors of this state and the attorney general gives us another tool to fight for working families. I thank them for not only prosecuting these cases, but for creating a model we can build on."

"Every week, New Yorkers lose $20 million in unpaid wages," Manhattan DA Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said. "And every day, construction workers who risk their lives doing dangerous jobs have to wonder whether they'll actually be paid for their work. Wage theft is one of the most pervasive problems in New York City and State, and in the construction industry in particular, workers are all too often preyed upon by their employers, who are able to steal millions of dollars in unpaid wages. I'm proud and grateful to stand with our partners in law enforcement and government against this type of fraud. As the giving season approaches, it is my hope that the holidays will be that much brighter for the families of more than 300 New Yorkers who will be receiving $500,000 in back pay owed to them."

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