New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Oct. 14 new measures to support a statewide task force to combat worker exploitation. The measures include a new $700,000 funding to coordinate outreach and education with workers and employers, as well as investigations, prosecutions and data collection and compliance efforts.
Cuomo also announced the creation of an Anti-Retaliation Unit and a Mediation Unit within the State Department of Labor to eliminate potential retaliation against workers who assert their rights, and to expedite the speedy disposition of cases generated by the task force’s investigations.
Officials said these two new units will serve to give workers the confidence to step forward with complaints of wage theft and other violations and expedite resolution of investigations while also helping employers save thousands in potential fines.
Cuomo also launched a new website, www.ny.gov/EndWorkerExploitation, to provide workers, employers and the general public with information about the task force.
The announcement came amid the first public meeting of the task force to combat worker exploitation. The task force said that so far, it has opened 30 joint-agency enforcement cases across New York. Allegations against the 30 employers at the center of these investigations include failing to carry appropriate workers’ compensation insurance, violating child labor laws, and stealing wages, tips and overtime pay. The industries include restaurants and delis, supermarkets and housecleaning companies, landscaping and car washes.
New York officials said the task force to combat worker exploitation is the first-of-its-kind statewide enforcement effort targeting multiple industries where workers are often victims of wage theft and subject to unsafe work conditions, but do not come forward for fear of retaliation. These industries include: restaurants, supermarkets, car wash, retail, landscaping, nail salons, construction, farming, maintenance, home health care, laundry, janitorial and cleaning services, and truck and waste disposal drivers.
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