On Oct. 14, 2015, Governor Andrew W. Cuomo announced several measures to support the Task Force to Combat Worker Exploitation. The task force has $700,000 for educating workers and employers, for data collection and prosecution, and to put towards compliance efforts.
Governor Cuomo has established Anti-Retaliation and Mediation Units with the State Department of Labor to fight against retaliation against workers who exercise their rights.
Governor Cuomo said the administration is taking aggressive steps to protect workers and combat worker exploitation, and on Oct. 14, they continued their progress in that fight. Noting that he wants all employers across New York to hear the message loud and clear, that they won’t tolerate worker exploitation.
The announcements coincided with the task force’s first public meeting held by its advisory committee in New York City on Wednesday, Oct. 14. As of October, the task force had 30 joint-agency cases open across New York.
At the center of the investigations, 30 employers accused of stealing tips, wages and overtime pay, violating child labor laws, retaliating against employers who complain about workplace violations, and failing to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
The task force is the first statewide enforcement effort of its kind, and it is targeting multiple industries across New York where employees have been the victim of unsafe working conditions, but who haven’t come forward because they feared retaliation.
The industries include, but are not limited to:
- Nail salons
- Grocery stores
- Laundry services
- Waste disposal drivers
- Home health care
- Cleaning and janitorial services
- Car wash
New Yorkers who work in the above industries are frequently the victims of wage theft and are often subjected to unsafe working conditions and illegal deductions. Some are the victims of human trafficking, and some have been subjected to workplace violence.
In these industries, some workers are paid off the books, or not at all, and many of them are not protected by workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance due to their employer’s violations.
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