Governor Kathy Hochul has announced major actions to combat wage theft and protect the paychecks of hardworking New Yorkers. The Governor announced that the Wage Theft Task Force, a coordinated effort between the New York State Department of Labor, the New York State Attorney General, and District Attorneys, has recently secured felony convictions and agreements from more than a dozen businesses and 265 individuals to pay nearly $3 million in wage restitution and contributions owed to New York State since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor also announced new efforts to double down on the success of the Task Force, launching a new hotline and developing a state-of-the-art online wage theft reporting system to create more opportunities for workers to report wage theft and receive what they are owed while protecting their privacy and safety.
Starting today, New Yorkers can report wage theft directly to the New York State Department of Labor by calling the new hotline at 833-910-4378, which has interpretation services available. The online reporting system will give New Yorkers the ability to report wage theft online in a variety of languages while improving the Department's ability to track complaints and identify trends.
"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," Governor Hochul said. "The Wage Theft Task Force has already secured major victories for workers, and I thank the Attorney General and District Attorneys for their partnership with the Department of Labor to crack down on bad actors and deliver justice to workers. 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."
"Wage theft is a serious issue and I join the Governor, Attorney General and the Department of Labor in saying that New York will not tolerate the theft of hardworking New Yorker's livelihoods," said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. "The measures announced today will help us combat this issue and bring restitution to these victims."
To further empower New Yorkers to report theft, NYSDOL has also begun developing a new, state-of-the-art Worker Protection Management System, where New Yorkers can report claims online in multiple languages and receive updates in real time about the status of their claim. The $10 million project, set to be complete in 2023, will also provide the Department with real time data, enhancing its ability to analyze and identify violation trends. This builds on the Governor's ongoing efforts to improve transparency and increase accountability in State government.
Wage Theft Task Force
The Wage Theft Task Force initially leveraged criminal laws to achieve justice for construction workers in cases involving wage theft, fraud, and safety hazards. The Task Force has recently expanded its scope into other industries and counties in New York State. The Wage Theft Task Force includes NYSDOL, the New York State Attorney General's Office, the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF), the Offices of District Attorneys across the State, and the New York City Department of Investigation. The Task Force works closely with labor unions and community-based organizations as part of efforts to support workers and recover owed wages.
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "Our investigators, District Attorneys, and law enforcement agencies across the State are pursuing bad actors who look to cheat hardworking New Yorkers out of what they're owed. My message to unscrupulous employers is clear: We will not tolerate the mistreatment of workers. If you violate our labor laws, we will find you and hold you accountable. We will never stop fighting to protect all New York workers."
New York State Attorney General Letitia James said, "Each and every day, hardworking New Yorkers move our state forward - they are what make us great. For too long and too often, greedy employers have preyed upon these same workers, cheating them out of the wages they have rightfully earned. In the last two years, my office has returned over $15 million to more than 15,000 victims of wage theft statewide, and we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that bad actors who steal from New Yorkers are held accountable. I am grateful to Governor Hochul, Commissioner Reardon, and all members of the Wage Theft Task Force for their partnership and relentless commitment to fight for the working people of New York."
New York State Insurance Fund Executive Director & CEO Gaurav Vasisht said, "Fighting fraud is a key component of ensuring that New York employers receive the lowest possible cost workers' compensation and disability insurance. I would like to thank the NYSDOL, the Office of the Attorney General and all the law enforcement authorities for their partnership in holding bad actors accountable and protecting the state's workers."
NYSDOL Wage Theft Protection
Over the past decade, NYSDOL had recovered and dispersed more than $360 million in stolen wages, identified over a million misclassified workers, and assessed over $400 million owed in unemployment insurance contributions through both criminal cases and civil enforcement.