Wage Theft in NYC

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Many employment and labor laws are regularly and systematically violated in New York City. That's according to a new report co-authored by Annette Bernhardt, policy co-director at the National Employment Law Project. She details the new report that reveals widespread abuse. Plus, Carolina Ferrera, former retail worker and member of the Retail Action Project, a project of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, describes her personal experience of wage theft.


Annette Bernhardt and Carolina Ferrera

Comments [17]


A lot of companies try to get around this by claiming the employee as "management" or some kind of supervisory position. I know someone who works for firestone out West, he works 50-60hrs a week and is paid only for 30 because they use this bogus management tactic. Another thing employers do is keep your work week under 30 hours so they avoid having to pay workers comp, or at least at a lower rate if any.

Companies not paying minimum wage are pure S-bags, it's virtually impossible to live on it as it is.

Feb. 02 2010 11:10 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

John, This is about paying minimum wage and over-time as required by law.

If a business owner can't do such a thing, whether they're a "mom and pop" or a person of color/immigrant themselves, then they shouldn't be in business - period.

Feb. 02 2010 10:52 AM
Rich K from UC, NJ

If wage and hours laws were enforced across the board at all businesses, the "advantage" any business, large or small, had would disappear. There are certainly small employers that aren't aware of all the rules (though I find it hard to believe that anyone would be unaware that overtime, minimum wage, and safety laws exist, even if they're not up-to-date with the specifics). But more predominant are those who claim ignorance while willfully abusing both the law and their employees.
PQ, they gave you 28 hours for 2 reasons - it was the most they could give you without giving you full-time benefits, and it allowed them to keep "full-time" employees under 28 hours, for the same reason. they were fully, and cynically, in compliance with the letter, though not the spirit, of the law.

Feb. 02 2010 10:51 AM
tF from 10075

Holy free market?

NO NO the cause of that was people buying when they should have been selling. but to be fair they did not know what they were buying.

Feb. 02 2010 10:50 AM
Jonathan from Manhattan

What about non-employee workers/freelancers faced with supressed rates? Are there any regulatory structures that protect this growing labor group from extreme conditions?

Feb. 02 2010 10:50 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

John, This is about paying minimum wage and over-time as required by law.

If a business owner can't do such a thing, whether they're a "mom and pop" or a person of color/immigrant themselves, then they shouldn't be in business - period.

Feb. 02 2010 10:50 AM
See from Summit, NJ

Re: various comments

So if you're an immigrant or person of color it's okay to cheat your employees, or only if they're also immigrants or people of color?

If you own a small business and the rules are burdensome, it's okay to ignore them?

Feb. 02 2010 10:46 AM
Lance from Miami

Thanks for airing this discussion.

Too many NYers are totally unaware of this problem, which is rampant. I have friends who work as servers in restaurants who have been telling me about these issues for several years.

Feb. 02 2010 10:46 AM
john from office

How about organizing for the employers who try to stay in business. That is not easy.

Feb. 02 2010 10:39 AM
PQ from Chelsea

A few years ago I worked for a semester at the Banana Republic on 59th & Lexington, when it first opened. I was hired part-time since I was a student. I was one of maybe five white employees at the store, while the majority of the rest were black, lower-class adults who were hired full-time and who needed these jobs to support their families. But I was consistently given more hours than I could handle, often 28 a week, which is more than I even had of class. But at the full-time workers would get 14 hours a week or other similar times. I asked one of my supervisor for less hours and she refused, noting in a very hostile manner that I agreed to work up to 28 hours a week when I was hired. Plus they were always having problems paying us on time. Unbelievable that such a rich gigantic company of such an overpriced store would sink to such levels.

Feb. 02 2010 10:38 AM
john from office

How about a show about "PEOPLE OF COLOR" who own a business and employ people and work an 80 hour work weeks. This is Liberals applying standards from big business to mom and pop stores. Causing them to go out of business and losing jobs.

Feb. 02 2010 10:36 AM
Robert from NYC

Either these waiters are making damn good tips or they're stupid to stay at a restaurant that doesn't pay them.

Feb. 02 2010 10:35 AM
john from office

Brian, these samll employers are also immigrants.

Feb. 02 2010 10:33 AM
john from office

Brian, Most small businesses struggle to survive and the employers are also unaware of all the laws. Again you have a guest making claims that have no facts or backup. My parents owned a samll business and they cannot and would not have survived with this over regulation. Brian, the employers are also "People of color".

Feb. 02 2010 10:32 AM
Jon from NYC

@ tF from 10075 [1]:
Free markets only work when there's a fair marketplace - customers, producers, vendors, *and* laborers. There's nothing "sacred" about injustice.

Feb. 02 2010 10:15 AM
Holy free market? from Staten Island

to fF from 10075:

The sacred and holy free market got us into this horrendeous fiscal crisis we are in now where speculators knocked out the regulators. Taxpayers are paying now for all those holy players gaming the system.
We need fair play and strickter rules, not a slap on the wrist.

Feb. 02 2010 10:13 AM
tF from 10075

this better not be another liberal attack on the sacred and holy free market

Feb. 02 2010 09:00 AM

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