Governor Kathy Hochul visited the Finishing Trades Institute in Long Island City Tuesday, July 19, to announce an expansion of the Wage Theft Task Force to prevent wage theft and protect New Yorkers’ paychecks.
Hochul, alongside State Attorney General Letitia James, the New York State Department of Labor and district attorneys said their combined efforts have recently secured felony convictions from over a dozen businesses and $3 million in wage restitution for 265 individuals.
“As we work to help New Yorkers recover from the economic hardship of the pandemic, we must ensure we are protecting workers and guarantee they receive the pay they are owed,” Hochul said. “I am proud that we are doubling down on our efforts in order to help more workers and make it clear that in New York, wage theft will never be tolerated.”
The task force originally focused on injustices facing construction workers in regards to wage theft, fraud and safety hazards, but recently expanded its scope into other industries across the state. Working closely with district attorney’s offices, labor unions and community-based organizations, the task force is able to successfully recover owed wages.
In 2020, the task force went after Jagdep Deol of Laser Electrical Contracting, who pleaded guilty to failure to pay more than $1.5 million in prevailing wages in Queens. Eleven employees on projects for the New York City School Construction Authority and the New York City Department of Education were cheated out of paychecks.
Deol was required to make full restitution to the victims and reimburse New York City approximately $160,000 in investigation costs.
Queens Attorney General Melinda Katz said that this is a pervasive problem that often gets overlooked.
“I have heard the exact same thing, and that is no one is paying attention to the workers who are getting ripped off,” Katz said. “Not only is wage theft a pervasive problem, but it also disproportionately impacts the most vulnerable members of our community and negatively impacts our economy. I appreciate that we are holding people accountable, and making unscrupulous employers pay back the wages that they have stolen from people that do a day’s work.”
The governor also announced a new hotline and developed an online wage theft reporting system to make the process more accessible for victims of theft.
State Senator Jessica Ramos and chair of the Senate Labor Committee, also commented saying that, since elected, she has prioritized legislation to put her neighbors’ hard-earned money back in their pockets.
“I’m grateful that New Yorkers will have another tool at their disposal to recover stolen wages and see this as an important initiative in our state’s collective effort to defend working people from exploitive bosses,” Ramos said.
Starting today, New Yorkers facing wage theft can directly contact the New York State Department of Labor by calling 833-910-4387.
New Yorkers who need assistance or want to file a claim can also email [email protected] or call 888-4-NYSDOL (888-469-7365).