By Sadef Ali Kully
Hundreds of phone calls have poured into the city’s labor law offices to claim prevailing wages after the city comptroller announced an estimated $3.7 million in wages owed to workers, including $800,000 owed to workers in Queens, according to its office.
As of Tuesday, 610 phone calls were received, there had been almost 9,000 visits to the unclaimed wages website and 10 workers have come forward, seven of whom will be receiving checks, according to a spokeswoman for the comptroller.
Including companies that are scamming workers into making claims for prevailing wages and then charging them fees.
The city’s Office of the General Counsel and Comptroller Scott Stringer sent out a cease-and-desist letter to a New Jersey-based company Metrosearch Recoveries, which makes claims to get back city wages to workers, according to its website. In its claim forms, Metrosearch Recoveries asked wage claimers to pay a commission fee and 20 percent of the refund a worker would receive.
Stringer said, “Metrosearch Recoveries is nothing more than a bunch of hustlers trying to shake down hardworking New Yorkers. Let me make it clear: My office has zero tolerance for anyone who tries to cheat workers out of their wages. We are on to them and we are investigating them. This is your money and you can get it from us for free, no strings attached.”
Metrosearch Recoveries did not respond despite several requests by TimesLedger for comment.
The Comptroller’s Office sets and enforces prevailing wage and benefit rates on city public works projects and attempts to find workers who are owed wages from these settlements.
In Queens, 200 individuals are owed a total of $799,351; in Brooklyn, 241 individuals are owed a total of $628,447; in the Bronx, 160 individuals are owed a total of $324,729; in Manhattan, 53 individuals are owed a total of $62,180; and in Staten Island, 25 individuals are owed a total of $19,599.
“Thousands of hardworking individuals, many of whom are immigrants, have been cheated out of their rightfully earned wages, but they may not know these funds exist,” Stringer said
Prevailing wage laws require employers to pay workers the wage and benefit rate set annually by the city comptroller when those employees work on city public works projects, such as renovating public schools or building service contracts, which includes security guard and custodial work with city agencies. When companies do not pay, the comptroller enforces the law to ensure workers receive what they are owed.
Since 2014, the office said it has reached settlements worth more than $8.6 million.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull