wage theft news
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After a joint investigation involving the Nassau County district attorney’s office and federal and state labor departments, the owners of the Colony Diner in East Meadow have pleaded guilty to underpaying 72 workers and falsifying records, the district attorney’s office said Tuesday.
It was the first such joint investigation under New York State’s Wage Theft Prevention Act, which took effect in April 2011. That law ratchets up the penalties for wage violations.
The owners, George Strifas, 46, of East Hills, and his cousin Thomas Strifas, 41, of Merrick, and their company, Stardust Diners Inc., pleaded guilty to felony counts involving falsifying payroll and time records and one misdemeanor count of failing to comply with state wage laws. They face up to 4 years in prison when they are sentenced July 17.
They have also agreed to pay more than $500,000 as part of the plea: $337,780 in back wages to settle minimum wage and overtime violations, $163,742 in damages to the employees and $48,681 in state unemployment insurance payments.
“The results send a clear message to employers that….
Imagine you’ve just landed a job with a big-time retailer. Your task is to load and unload boxes from trucks and containers. It’s back-breaking work. You toil 12 to 16 hours a day, often without a lunch break. Sweat drenches your clothes in the 90-degree heat, but you keep going: your kids need their dinner. One day, your supervisor tells you that instead of being paid an hourly wage, you will now get paid for the number of containers you load or unload. This will be great for you, your supervisor says: More money! But you open your next paycheck to find it shrunken to the point that you are no longer even making minimum wage. You complain to your supervisor, who promptly sends you home without pay for the day. If you pipe up again, you’ll be looking for another job.
Everardo Carrillo says that’s just what happened to him and other low-wage employees who worked at a Southern California warehouse run by a Walmart contractor. Carrillo and his fellow workers have launched a multi-class-action lawsuit for massive wage theft…
On Thursday, for the first time in El Paso history an employer was arrested and indicted for robbing a worker of his wages.
In a state that constantly (and loudly) touts its business-friendly attitude, workers almost never reap the benefits. Construction workers and other low-income workers suffer some of the worst conditions in the country, with some of the worst pay.
In 2011, Austin-based Workers Defense Project successfully lobbied for a bill that amended the state’s wage theft code, authored by Senator Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso), that made it harder for employers to get away with stealing workers’ wages. The amendment to the Texas criminal code closed a loophole which allowed employers to get away with paying employees only partially for their work without facing criminal charges. El Paso has become the first city outside of Austin to indict an employer for stealing wages.
“It’s huge because we’re…
Amarillo, TX – Stolen wages often go unreported in Texas, and the perpetrators often go unpunished. Now a state senator wants to amend Texas law to crack down on wage theft.
“Wage theft” is exactly what it sounds like – a dishonest employer refusing to pay workers. And a new proposal would give the Texas Workforce Commission more power to prosecute those cases.
Wage theft happens across many industries, but in the construction industry in particular , due to the high number of both independent contractors and temporary workers. so when workers fall victim to wage theft, they often find themselves with little recourse. but strong workers’ rights laws in Texas allow multiple avenues to recoup any losses.
“Our builders take care of the subcontractors,” says Lew Bradshaw, the Executive Officer of the Amarillo branch of the Texas Panhandle Builder’s Association. “And if they don’t, they can go over to the County and file a lien against that house, and if it were to be sold, they have to be paid before the house can be purchased by a new owner. So there’s some safeguards in there for our local people.”
Current state law allows the TWC to impose punitive fines on those found to have acted “in bad faith,” but it doesn’t specify what constitutes “bad faith.”….
Food-service sector among worst violators of wage laws nationally and in San Francisco
Last year, Mauricio Lozano found a job through a friend at a pizzeria in North Beach. The pay was $8 an hour, in cash. He said a supervisor told him he would get less than San Francisco’s minimum wage because he was “in training.”
Under city law, that’s no excuse for paying below the mandated wage floor, then $10.24 an hour. But the restaurant needed someone right away, and Lozano was in no position to negotiate. A recent immigrant from El Salvador with few other prospects and a family back home to support, Lozano snatched up the opportunity. “Because I didn’t have another job, I had to take it,” he lamented.
Lozano’s story is far from uncommon, say community organizers and city officials. Records show that San Francisco’s enormous food service sector is the worst for such violations. City records show that two-thirds of wages city inspectors recover for workers for minimum wage violations come from restaurants, coffee shops and other eateries.
Nationwide, 19.9 percent of all workers in food preparation and service occupations are paid below minimum wage…
Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone submitted a proposed ordinance related to Wage Theft to the Somerville Board of Aldermen at their regular meeting on Thursday, April 11.
The proposed ordinance includes language in the city’s code of ordinances granting city boards and commissions, where allowed by state law, the authority to deny applications for licenses or permits, for businesses found liable of or guilty, or who admit liability or guilt related to a violation of Massachusetts General Laws pertaining to payment of wages. The ordinance would also grant authority to revoke existing licenses or permits, or issues penalties as necessary.
“Individuals affected by wage theft are often among the most vulnerable in our city, and may not have the resources or necessary information to appeal for unpaid wages, and it is our duty as community leaders to create legislation that encourages greater enforcement of state and federal laws,” said Mayor Curtatone. “Local businesses are integral to the fabric of this community, and in investing in our local economy, but we must ensure that their employees are treated fairly and given every opportunity to succeed.”
“We believe the problem of wage theft in Somerville is much bigger…
Five protestors were arrested last week in Philadelphia for blocking traffic in an effort to call attention to a crime that is a menace to hourly workers nationwide: wage theft.
Wage theft can refer to any number of ways in which an employer shorts employees on the pay they are legally entitled to, be it by paying less than minimum wage, not paying overtime, making people work off the clock, dipping into tips or refusing to pay last wages for workers who quit or are fired. A 2009 survey by the National Employment Law Project found that over two-thirds of low-wage workers had been subjected to wage theft in the previous work week.
The guards in Philadelphia were protesting both overtime violations and the fact that their employer, McGinn Security, makes them travel across the city to sign any write-ups they have received before they release their pay.
“In April 2013, McGinn…
Joan Rivers spent years as a television writer, including a stint on The Tonight Show. But this week, the popular comedian is one of the targets of a strike by TV writers on the show Fashion Police, which Rivers co-hosts with Kelly Osbourne, Giuliana Rancic and George Kotsiopoulos. (Her daughter Melissa is executive producer.)
Writers on the E! Network show allege that their bosses ignore California wage-and-hour laws and have underpaid them by $1.5 million. Their strike, they say, will continue until Fashion Police signs a Writers Guild of America contract, providing them with union protection and industry-standard wages and benefits.
Television jobs might seem glamorous, but behind the scenes, writers work long hours, and the glamor factor is often used to press them…
For Angel Nava, Chicago’s newly adopted wage theft ordinance is particularly personal.
Until recently, Nava had worked at the same car wash business in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood for 14 years. The 55-year-old employee did it all — washing, detailing, buffing — for about 50 hours each week. Then, his boss decided to stop paying overtime.
In fact, Nava didn’t receive the overtime he was owed for the last four years he worked at the car wash. He told me (though a translator) that none of his co-workers were receiving overtime either — “everyone was very upset.” Nava said he knew his employer was acting illegally, but he didn’t know how to file a Department of Labor complaint or know of any community group that could help him fight for his wages. Eventually he was referred to the Arise Chicago Worker Center.
With the Worker Center’s help, the Department of Labor launched an investigation, and Nava eventually received a check for $1,300 — not nearly what he was owed, but it was something. Because of the wage theft experience, Nava quit his longtime job and now works for a different car wash making $7 an hour, which is above minimum wage for tipped employees in Illinois. (Employers must pay tipped workers $4.95 per hour, and tips are expected to bring the workers’ earnings to the state minimum wage of $8.25.)….
Students in a Migrant Farmworkers class will educate community members about labor rights Thursday, launching a campaign that may call on the University of Minnesota administration to get involved.
Labor Rights Violations on Minnesota Industrial Farms will focus specifically on wage theft at industrial farms throughout the state.
Wage theft is when workers aren’t paid wages they’re owed, said Lisa Sass Zaragoza, the Chicano and Latino Studies instructor who teaches the class.
“So they work, but maybe they’ve worked overtime and they haven’t gotten overtime [pay]. … Or maybe they were fired and they didn’t get their last paycheck,” she said.
Most migrant farm workers come to Minnesota from Texas or Mexico to work in seasonal canning jobs in the southern-central part of the state, according to Centro Campesino, a Minnesota group that connects workers to labor resources.
“Even though they play such a huge role in how we produce and distribute food in the United States, they are consistently a group of folks who work in terrible living and working conditions…
Like almost everything in the Texas, the construction industry in the Lone Star State is big. One in every 13 workers here is employed in the state’s $54 billion-per-year construction industry.
Homebuilding and commercial construction may be an economic driver for the state, but it’s also an industry riddled with hazards. Years of illegal immigration have pushed wages down, and accidents and wage fraud are common. Of the nearly 1 million workers laboring in construction here, approximately half are undocumented.
Many of those workers have been in the U.S. for years, even decades. This critical mass of eager, mostly Hispanic workers means it’s possible for a family from New York or California to move to Texas and buy a brand new, five-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot home for $160,000.
Just how cheap is the cheap labor in Texas? Sometimes, it’s free. Guillermo Perez, 41, is undocumented and has been working commercial construction jobs in Austin for 13 years.
“[The employer] said he didn’t have the money to pay me and he owed me $1,200,” Perez says of one job. “I told him that I’m going to the Texas Workforce Commission, which I did. Then after that, he came back two weeks later and paid me.”
Perez is brave. Undocumented workers are…
LOS ANGELES, April 11, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su has issued citations against O & K Apparel Inc. to pay $113,785 in overtime wages for 110 employees, plus penalties of $61,450 for failing to pay proper overtime and $307,250 for issuing improper itemized/deduction statements.
“Employers must pay workers the wages they’ve earned,” said Christine Baker, director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). The Labor Commissioner’s office is a division within DIR. “And the Labor Commissioner’s office will protect their rights, as well as the rights of honest businesses and taxpayers.”
O & K Apparel Inc. makes women’s garments in Los Angeles and pays its employees by the piece. Under the law, garment contractors are required to provide accurate itemized statements to employees showing total hours worked by the employees and if paid by the piece, they must show the number of pieces produced for specific manufacturers and the rate of pay for each piece in addition to the total hours worked…
Alex, a resident of Boulder County, was working full-time at a gym in Boulder for a little over a month, but he had yet to receive a paycheck for his hard-earned work. Alex was owed approximately $1,000. He tried discussing this matter with his boss through friendly negotiation, but his concerns were dismissed. Without a month’s worth of pay, Alex did not have enough money to pay for rent and to buy groceries. He was a distressed victim of wage theft.
According to the Department of Labor wage theft occurs in various ways, such as: payment below minimum wage, nonpayment of overtime hours, withholding tips, nonpayment for all of the hours worked, nonpayment of workers’ compensation, and surprisingly common, not paying workers at all.
Unfortunately, what Alex experienced is not an anomaly. Similar cases of wage theft happen all across the country every day. According to “Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers,” a study by the National Employment Law Project, the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and the Center on Urban Economic Development, workers in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles alone had approximately $2.9 billion stolen from them just in 2008.
Not only is…
Protestors swarmed Rodeo Drive Wednesday, demanding money for garment workers who reportedly weren’t paid for making clothes for retailer Bebe.
The demonstrators claimed that Bebe owes them tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages. They accuse Bebe — which has a store on Rodeo Drive — of wage theft.
“Not paying someone for their service, for their hard work is a crime — it’s robbing somebody of their salary,” the Garment Workers Center’s Marissa Nuncio said into a bullhorn.
Nuncio said the demonstrators work for a clothing manufacturer in downtown Los Angeles for the Bebe label. That factory shut down and reportedly failed to pay dozens of workers for as long as a month and a half, owning them more than $50,000.
“Under California law, a manufacturer and retailer like Bebe is responsible, just as a factory owner is for seeing that workers are paid legal and just wages,” Nuncio said.
Protestors presented a letter intended for the Bebe CEO, asking for immediate payment.
The demonstration shines a light on the bigger picture of wage theft, which, according to a UCLA study, is more of a problem in Los Angeles than any other major U.S. city.
Activists say labor laws are in place but aren’t properly enforced.
Calls to Bebe’s corporate communications office seeking a statement were not returned
Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbors work for nothing, and does not give them their wages. (Jeremiah 22:13)
In places of worship, in workplaces and homes, Oregonians of faith and good conscience are coming together to help rid our state of wage theft.
Wage theft occurs when employers pay workers less than the minimum wage, don’t pay time-and-a-half for overtime hours, cheat on the number of hours worked, steal tips or don’t pay workers at all, for example.
Such actions not only violate the law, they also transgress basic moral principles. Jewish and Christian scripture are unequivocal: “Thou shalt not steal.” From Deuteronomy 24:15, we read: “You must pay out the wages due on the same day, before the sun sets, for the worker is needy and urgently depends on it.” And Islamic teaching is equally clear: “Pay the worker while the sweat is still wet upon their brow.”
That is why we have joined more than 100 leaders…
As a former chef and manager who spent 15 years working in kitchens, it was of no surprise to me that the restaurant and hotel industry topped every category in the recently released study by Fuerza Laboral on wage theft in Rhode Island titled, “Shortchanged: A study of unpaid wages in Rhode Island.” (PDF)
According to the report, the so-called hospitality industry is anything but hospitable to it’s workers when it comes to getting paid on time and in full.
The restaurant/hotel biz in R.I. had the highest number of complaints, the highest number of employers with multiple years of complaints, and the highest number of violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In FLSA complaints that were resolved, restaurant and hotels paid 864 Rhode Islanders a total of $1,042,782 in back pay, $881,460 of which was for overtime violations.
In the years that I spent preparing and serving meals for people who could afford to buy them, I saw a range of ill-treatment of employees and borderline sociopathic behavior by customers and employers alike. It’s bad enough that employees in this industry have to deal with a daily barrage of condescension and outrageous complaints or demands from customers, but many employers in the industry display outright contempt and disrespect for their employees….
Last October, Anthony M. Van Buren drove 135 miles south from his home in Charlottesville, Va., to the small town of Moneta in search of his former boss, Robert Brown, the owner of Star Valley Painting Contractors Inc. The visit was neither invited nor welcome. According to Van Buren, Brown’s site manager had fired him, along with several others, after they’d complained about not being paid for their work on a large painting project. The company, he says, owed him more than $1,000 for three weeks of work. Struggling financially, Van Buren, 59, had tried and failed to work out a deal with his landlord to forestall eviction. He needed his pay, and fast.
Driving to Moneta was a last resort. Days before, Van Buren had called Virginia’s Department of Labor and Industry to report his employer’s nonpayment, a crime under Virginia state law. To his disbelief, the agency told him they were no longer taking wage-and-hour claims and that it was up to him to investigate and prosecute the alleged crime. They referred him to a private lawyer, but the attorney’s fees alone would have amounted to more than the sum he sought…
The city of Chicago is adding a bit more muscle to its laws against wage theft. On Wednesday, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance which empower the city to strip companies of their business licenses if they cut corners on wages owed to employees. Supporters of the law hailed it as a crucial step forward for workers’ rights in the city.
Liliana Baca, a member of Arise Chicago’s worker center, said she had been a victim of systematic wage theft over the course of her five years working at a local grocery store. ”So many people have had their wages stolen, and this ordinance will help them recover their wages and prevent wage theft from happening to other people,” she said in a statement released by Arise Chicago, which supported the legislation.
Supporters also argued that the new ordinance would help businesses which abide the law. “What it does specifically is, for those who have business licenses, it creates a fair playing field for them,” Latino Union of Chicago executive director Eric Rodriguez told MSNBC. “It’s a good thing for workers and businesses….
In Minnesota, Cesar was working for a small company with a friend. He spent six months teaching his friend carpentry. The man eventually started his own construction company. Two years later, Cesar ran into… MORE