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New York workers recover millions in stolen wages

In 2017, more than $35 million in stolen wages was returned to 36,446 workers in New York. This was an increase over 2016, during which $34 million was recovered on behalf of 27,42 workers in the state. The governor of New York also announced that an additional $1 million had been provided to the Department of Labor to expand its staff.

In 2015, the state launched the Exploited Workers Task Force, and in 2016, the governor signed Executive Order 159, which established a permanent Joint Task Force on Employee Misclassification and Worker Exploitation. Both were aimed at helping workers who may be scared of reporting abuse at work because of the potential for retaliation. The governor said that these workers are often immigrants and others who may be geographically isolated. These workers are often subject to unlawful deductions, poor working conditions and long hours. Employers often steal wages owed by paying tips only, not paying overtime or paying a day rate that is less than minimum wage for the hours worked.

In addition, some employers take money earned for time spent training or traveling between job sites. They could also unfairly charge employees for uniforms or other supplies. In some cases, workers are not paid a prevailing wage. The prevailing wage is the minimum wage for those employed on a public works project.

A failure to pay minimum wage or overtime could constitute a violation of wage laws. Those who believe that they have not been paid in accordance with the law may wish to consult with an attorney. One could take legal action that may result in recovering lost wages as well as additional damages. Those who are wrongfully terminated or otherwise retaliated against for making a wage claim could be entitled to additional damages or work reinstatement.

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