Tag Archives: State – New York
Colony Diner owners plead guilty to wage violations
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 Posted in Uncategorized
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….
WW Members Win Nearly $1 Million in Wage Theft Case
Monday, October 1st, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized
New York, NY- A federal judge has awarded a group of immigrant workers over $950,000 in unpaid wages for work at a Queens-based beverage distributor. A group of Latino warehouse workers and truck drivers brought the class action lawsuit against Beverage Plus and its owners after years of disrespect and systematic violations of state and federal law, violations which the judge found were intentional. The workers are members of Focus on the Food Chain, a coalition promoting good jobs and a sustainable food system in New York City’s growing food processing and distribution sector.
“My co-workers and I were deprived of our pay and badly exploited but we finally learned about our rights,” said Richard Merino, who drove a delivery truck at Beverage Plus for six years and was a named plaintiff in the case. “We stood up together and now justice has arrived for us and more importantly for our families.”
Beverage Plus employees were worked as many as twelve hours a day, deprived of overtime, and subjected to unlawful deductions from their pay. Individual workers will recover as much as $169,000 and the egregious nature of the company’s conduct resulted in an award of punitive and compensatory damages for retaliation. The workers…
Wage Theft – “Modern Form of Slavery” Persists in NY
Monday, August 20th, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized
NEW YORK – It has been two years since New York passed the Wage Theft Protection Act, but immigrant advocates on Long Island say the law has failed to put a damper on the crime. Liz O’Shaughnessy is president and program director of the nonprofit group CoLoKi, which operates a trailer for day laborers in Freeport. She says in the last couple of months alone, more than two dozen cases have been brought to her attention.
O’Shaughnessy is not a lawyer, but she says when she is able to track down offending contractors she uses both pleas and threats to try to get them to pay the wages that are due.
“Sometimes that’s enough to scare them into paying, and that’s always a good thing, but some of these guys are savvy to the fact that they can just keep getting away with it. It’s almost like a new form of slavery.”
She has had to deal with some contractors…
College Point firm fined $1M over wages
Thursday, April 12th, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized
A College Point business that cheated a group of workers out of more than $1 million was ordered to pay up and is barred from bidding on contracts in the Big Apple for five years, the city comptroller said last week.
Mascon Restoration Inc., a construction firm that was working on behalf of several city agencies in 2007, not only failed to provide its workers with the prevailing wages required under any public works contract, but told a group of largely undocumented workers that inspectors from the city were also immigration agents, according to city Comptroller John Liu.
“This settlement helps to right the wrongs suffered by these hardworking people, and strong message that contractors working on city projects must pay prevailing wages as required under law,” Liu said at an April 4 news conference.
The company, headquartered at 129-06 18th Ave. and headed by Muhammad Zulfiqar, underpaid a group of what the comptroller’s office estimated at about 10 to 20 people, in some cases only giving them half of the daily wages they were entitled to….
Wages in restaurants: the real bread-and-butter issue
Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized
More and more, people want to know where their food and drink comes from. We ask: were these grapes organically grown, or doused with pesticides? Were the cows that make up this burger free to roam the pastures or crammed into overcrowded feedlots?
Less often do we ask about the conditions under which our food is prepared and served to us at our favorite restaurants.
A string of recent lawsuits suggest we should. Flyers recently slapped on lampposts in my neighborhood, the East Village in Manhattan, refer to one of them: three bartenders accuse the owners of downtown wine/tapas spots Bar Veloce and Bar Carrera of skimming up to 30% of their tips, along with failing to pay proper wages and overtime. The flyers exhort locals to think twice before frequenting these bars, along with nearby Porsena and Ugly Kitchen – also owned by defendant Frederick Twomey, who denies the allegations.
It’s not just Twomey. Earlier this month, celebrity chef Mario Batali and his business partner agreed to pay $5.25m to settle claims that their restaurants including downtown Manhattan’s Babbo and Casa Mono illegally nabbed a portion of servers’ and other staffers’ tips. Del Posto, another Batali restaurant, faces a separate lawsuit in New York alleging employees were underpaid….
Wage theft report is not a surprise
Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized
The reports of alleged wage theft by a Stillwater flooring installation business came as a disappointment but no surprise to the Capital District Labor-Religion Coalition. The problem is both a symptom of declining workers’ rights and a much more pervasive issue than generally believed.
According to coverage of the Stillwater case, the employer was under contract with a local municipality. He is accused of filing reports for the job claiming that he complied with “prevailing wage” requirements while in fact paying lower hourly rates. In addition, employees allegedly weren’t paid for job-related work like loading and unloading materials.
Restaurant to Pay Workers in Wage-Theft Case
Friday, March 2nd, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized
A West Village hookah lounge and restaurant has agreed to pay $200,000 in back wages and penalties for underpaying about 25 employees, many of them immigrants, and firing two workers who reported the violations to the authorities, the New York attorney general announced in a statement on Thursday.
The employees benefited in part from a wage-theft law that took effect last April. The law quadrupled the penalties for employers who underpay their workers and added new protections for whistle-blowers. The law, called the Wage Theft Prevention Act, passed after months of lobbying by labor unions and immigrants’ advocates.
Wage theft is particularly rampant in industries where many illegal immigrants work, including the restaurant, retail and construction sectors. The new law added remedies for workers who have experienced retaliation, including damages of up to $10,000 per instance of retaliation.
Restaurant workers sue, alleging racial discrimination
Saturday, February 18th, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized
Last week, as part of a campaign called “Dignity at Darden,” workers in New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago announced that they have filed a class action lawsuit against Darden Restaurants for discrimination and wage theft at Capital Grille restaurants in those cities.
According to the lawsuit, the workers accuse Darden of violating the Civil Rights Act and believe it’s a reflection of a corporate-wide policy of racial discrimination. They have also accused Darden of violating the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage and hour laws for all employees.
Homecare Workers Sue Agency for Wage Theft
Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized
MFY Legal Services and Debevoise Plimpton LLP are representing employees of BNV Home Care Agency, Inc. and Academy Care Givers, Inc. in a class action lawsuit that charges that the agencies stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from them and systematically violated New York State Labor Laws.
Park Slope Associated Supermarket Discontinuing Sales of Sonny & Joe’s Hummus
Friday, March 25th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized
The Associated Supermarket in Park Slope has joined a growing number of food retailers that have discontinued the sale of Sonny & Joe’s hummus, over workers’ rights concerns at Flaum’s East Williamsburg food production and distribution facility. Flaum and its owner Moshe Grunhut illegally fired seventeen of their Latino workers en masse after the employees stood up against over a decade of unlawfully withheld overtime pay, denial of benefits, and abusive treatment from management. Though Flaum’s retaliatory conduct was judged illegal in February 2009 after a full trial, the company is resisting compliance with the judge’s order including the payment of over $260,000 in lost wages. Flaum has profited for years from the hard work of its immigrant employees but only raised the question of immigration status in a discriminatory bid to avoid the lawful court order.
“I’m glad that Associated Supermarket showed concern for the rights of workers along its supply chain,” said Felipe Romero, a Flaum worker whose firing was held to be illegal. “I dedicated nine years of my life working very hard at Flaum but that didn’t count for anything when my co-workers and I stood up against wage theft. Even though Mr. Grunhut lost the court trial, he still won’t pay what he owes. The decision of Associated Spermarket to stop selling Flaum products demonstrates to the company that workers’ rights must be taken seriously and takes us a step forward toward winning justice.”
The Flaum workers are part of the Focus on the Food Chain campaign, a collaborative effort from non-profit organization Brandworkers and the NYC Industrial Workers of the World labor union. After the workers’ struggle was brought to the attention of the Park Slope Greens, they decided to act. The supermarket was…
Workers’ Centers: A Clubhouse for Struggle, Support
Thursday, March 24th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized
On a recent late-winter afternoon, the workers’ center on the second floor of a nondescript office building in New York City’s Chinatown was full and busy. Everyone had just eaten lunch; warm soup was welcome after picketing in the cold outside an offending restaurant, Saigon Grill on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In the rear of the small office suite, with worn blue industrial carpet underfoot and inspirational posters bearing Mandarin Chinese writing on the walls, a circle of Saigon Grill’s delivery men discussed how to deal with what they called their employer’s latest affronts. A few feet away, at a computer, a young lawyer talked with her client — a worker at a restaurant in Queens until the owner abruptly shut it down — and typed up a legal document. Nearby stood a man talking to others about his effort to confront extortion and violence in the limousine business.
This workers’ center of the Chinese Staff and Workers Association — like its counterpart in Brooklyn, or the Workers Defense Project in Austin, or the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida, or the Pilipino Workers Center in Los Angeles, or hundreds of other centers across the country — is a clubhouse for struggle. It’s a supportive home-away-from-home for immigrants working the jobs at the bottom of America’s economy and fighting for better conditions. Often, their battle is simply for employers to follow state and federal laws that require payment of minimum wage, payment of tips and overtime, defined and finite hours, a physically safe environment and the ability to redress grievances without retaliation or termination. Niceties like paid sick days, paid vacation days and health insurance would be welcome, too.
“You feel it’s home. You go there and people care about you. People care about each other, just like friends,” said Jerry Weng, 30, who emigrated from China 14 years ago and now lives in the Chinese enclave of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He is a regular at both the Chinatown workers’ center and the Saigon Grill picket line, claiming he was unfairly fired from the restaurant. “If you don’t stand up for your rights, conditions never change,” Weng said. “I get inspired by a lot of workers coming out to fight for their rights.
Read more: http://www.forward.com/articles/136435/#ixzz1HX8YffMb
Walmart foes testify before City Council
Thursday, February 17th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized
Lawyers, advocates and former Walmart employees testified against the potential entry of the mega-retailer into the five boroughs before three committees of the City Council Thursday. As expected, their testimony was almost unanimously critical of the Bentonville, Ark.-based company’s conduct.
Several witnesses presented testimony, based on workers’ lawsuits, of what they charged were widespread labor abuses built into Walmart’s corporate structure. The allegations spanned the country and ranged from Walmart forcing employees to work extra hours with no pay, to repeated instances of management retribution against workers who tried to unionize.
The comments of Council members themselves on Walmart also skewed negative, with the exception of Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich, who said he supported the retailer’s entry into the city to combat rampant unemployment in his district.
“In this country, you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty,” said Mr. Ulrich, referring to various civil action suits pending against Walmart, many of which allege labor, civil rights and human rights violations on a company-wide scale.
Former Walmart grocery manager Sandra Carpenter said when she attempted to educate “immigrant employees not familiar with the rights that we are supposed to have in this country,” the managers at her store engaged in retribution by forcing her to work off the clock for up to two hours a day. She estimates she lost more than $4,000 in overtime payments.
Attorney Claude Leblanc, who represents 190 Walmart…
5 Restaurant Workers Succeed in ‘Wage Theft’ Case ($8100) in City of Ithaca Small Claims Court
Friday, January 21st, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized
In a new strategy of the Tompkins County Workers’ Center, five restaurant workers from a local restaurant, Hogsback BBQ, were successful in Small Claims Court in Ithaca, to get back wages not paid (in excess of $8,100). This short video gives a glimpse of the workers and how they felt about the victory and what it might mean for Tompkins County workers.
$26.6 Million in Unpaid Wages and Overtime Returned to New Yorkers Last Year
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized
Just how prevalent can overtime pay violations be? In one state alone in 2010, workers were shortchanged to the tune of about $26 million. That was in the state of New York, where the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) returned a total of $26.6 million to workers who had been stiffed in terms of wages and unpaid overtime illegally.
The returned amount, according to a January 3 release, represents the second-highest monetary amount recovered in the 110-year history of the department.
The Labor Commissioner for the State of New York indicated that the US economy has simply made a bad situation worse for workers, as employers take advantage of workers in an effort to get through a tough economy. Thus, economic stresses are all too often borne on the backs of workers.
Various overtime laws and statutes governing minimum wage are enforced by the state Division of Labor Standards (DLS). Their efforts will be augmented in April when the Wage Theft Prevention Act (The Act) comes into effect in the state, carrying with it more stringent requirements with an eye on preventing such conduct on the part of employers.
Among the features and provisions of The Act are stronger collection tools and penalties for failure to pay minimum wage. A previous limit of 25 percent for damages collectible for underpayments due (over and above lost wages) will now be increased to 100 percent and brings New York State in line with the highest total allowable under Federal law.
The Department of Labor noted in its release that the DLS disbursed $18.7 million to 19,000 workers shortchanged on wages and overtime pay under overtime rules last year. Highlighted was a $1.9 million settlement with Broadway Bridge Carwash, the operators of which failed according to the release to pay minimum wage and overtime pay according to the…