Westchester Day Laborers Win $373,000 Award In Federal Court Wage Theft Case
(WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NEW YORK) - Three Day Laborers from Westchester County have won their case in Federal Court against Wage Theft, which their attorney calls “a milestone case.”
“This case ‘stands out for the magnitude’ of the wages that were stolen from these Workers and ‘also for the duration of the case and the fact that it was ultimately decided in Federal Court by a jury,’” said Robert McCreanor, the Legal Director for the Worker Justice Center of New York and the lead attorney on the wage theft case.
The three men, whose immigration status he declined to detail, worked for general contractor TDL Restoration, for three years, he said.
“So we think that these three Workers ‘in filing and in winning this case against their employer are sending a strong message to employers of Day Laborers that they can’t exploit their Workers, not pay them and expect to get away with it,’” said Nadia Marin-Molina, the Co-Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
Added McCreanor: “In ‘some respects,’ our Labor Laws ‘are good in that they are intended to penalize employers who don’t pay’ their Workers. ‘And so those damages add up.’ And, ‘ultimately, that resulted here in a really sizeable jury verdict.’ We’re ‘still waiting for finalization of the damages amount from the court, but it appears to be just about ($373,000) that are owed to these three Workers, collectively.’”
He says the case went to trial after the three plaintiffs rejected a final offer from the company of $125,000 to be paid over five years, much less than the initial $215,000 proposed.
McCreanor says the wage theft occurred nearly daily: “They were ‘required to report often as early as five in the morning, but they weren’t paid for those hours.’ ‘They wouldn’t be paid on the clock until sometimes as late as nine in the morning.’ ‘And then they’d work a really long day and, again, at the end of their shift would be required to do additional work for which they were not paid.’ So this ‘was not an isolated incident’ in the duration of their employment. ‘This was a way of business for the company.’ ‘What brought this to our attention is that the Workers were also paid with checks that bounced, and that happened many times.’”
The three men sought help about two years ago at Catholic Charities Community Services of the Archdiocese of New York, in Westchester County, where Esmeralda Hoscoy is Regional Director.
She says it is their first case to go to Federal Court and the largest financial amount won.
“In this particular case, ‘and what’s so unique about it is that the men, at every step of the way, said we want to continue to fight for our rights,’” Hoscoy said. “You taught us in the ‘Know Your Rights’ presentation, about our rights, justice, and we want to pursue this.”
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