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News » US » New York tackles wage theft in construction » published 5 Dec 2017

New York tackles wage theft in construction

New York City and its State partners have announced a joint effort to combat wage theft in construction and have brought criminal charges in multiple cases.

The aim of the Wage Theft Initiative is to prevent the exploitation of workers as part of a greater effort to ensure workplace safety, root out corruption and deter fraud in the construction industry.

Several cases involving multiple jurisdictions have been brought against defendants across New York City and State, accounting for more than US$2.5m in stolen wages affecting over 400 workers.

Queens district attorney Richard Brown said: “The failure to pay wages is a prevalent problem all over New York and in Queens, in particular, due to our large immigrant population. Many immigrant workers who come to the United States are forced to work for private contractors for far below prevailing rates and then only to see their wages withheld or their paychecks bounce for lack of funds. The end result is that the workers are put in the difficult position of complaining and losing their jobs or staying silent and being taken advantage of. In the case being prosecuted in Queens, the employers are alleged to have refused to pay employees the wages agreed upon by both parties.”

“Every week, New Yorkers lose $20 million in unpaid wages,” said Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R Vance, Jr. “And every day, construction workers who risk their lives doing dangerous jobs have to wonder whether they’ll actually be paid for their work. Wage theft is one of the most pervasive problems in New York City and State, and in the construction industry in particular, workers are all too often preyed upon by their employers, who are able to steal millions of dollars in unpaid wages. I’m proud and grateful to stand with our partners in law enforcement and government against this type of fraud. As the giving season approaches, it is my hope that the holidays will be that much brighter for the families of more than 300 New Yorkers who will be receiving $500,000 in back pay owed to them.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo said: “New York believes in a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and ‎has zero tolerance for those who seek to rob employees and deny them the wages they are rightfully owed. This crackdown sends a strong and direct message that workers will be protected and the principles of fairness and equality will continue to be upheld in this great state.”



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This article was published on 5 Dec 2017 (last updated on 5 Dec 2017).

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