More Than 17,000 Victims of Wage Theft Helped Amount on Pace to Set a Record of Money Returned to Workers as Governor Continues Efforts to Combat Worker Exploitation
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that over $10 million has been returned to more than 17,000 victims of wage theft during the first three months of 2016. This amount surpasses last year’s first quarter total of $9 million and places the state on track to exceed the $31.5 million in stolen wages recovered in 2015 – the highest ever. The surge in wage recoveries is a result of the Governor’s efforts to root out worker exploitation across multiple industries throughout New York State.
“New York State has zero tolerance for employers who seek to cheat their employees of hard-earned wages,” Governor Cuomo said. “These numbers clearly demonstrate the success of our ongoing efforts to combat worker exploitation. We will continue to aggressively crack down on unscrupulous employers and ensure a fair day’s pay is paid for a fair day’s work.”
The following table provides a regional breakdown of the $10.2 million distributed to 17,208 victims of wage theft in the first quarter of 2016:
Number of Workers
Central New York
New York City
Western New York
Some of the most common ways an employer may steal wages include:
- Paying tips only
- Paying a day rate for work performed, which is sub-minimum wage when you count up the hours worked
- Not paying an overtime rate for hours worked over 40 in a payroll week
- Not paying for travel time between work assignments in the same day
- Withholding final paychecks
- Not paying for “training” time
- Charging employees the cost of required uniforms or equipment
Governor Cuomo created the Governor’s Task Force to Combat Worker Exploitation last year to protect workers in a variety of industries where they are often victims of abuse, but do not come forward for fear of retaliation. Many of these individuals are immigrants and frequent victims of wage theft. They are often subjected to unsafe or unsanitary working conditions; long and irregular work hours; and illegal deductions for supplies, training, and uniforms. Some have been trafficked. They tend to work off the books, have dangerous jobs, and are often geographically isolated.
The member agencies of the Governor’s Exploited Workers Task Force include the Department of Labor, New York State Police, Workers’ Compensation Board, the Departments of State, Taxation and Finance, Agriculture and Markets and Health, as well as the State Liquor Authority, the Division of Human Rights, the Office of Children and Family Services, the Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Office of Faith-Based Services.
For more information about wage theft recovery in New York State, visit: www.labor.ny.gov/wagetheft.