- The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) has recaptured $6 million of wages that were illegally withheld from ironworkers and welders from November 2013 to December 2017 by their former employer, Maspeth, New York-based AGL Industries, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday. This is NYSDOL's largest wage-theft recovery ever.
- The joint investigation between NYSDOL and the Manhattan District Attorney's Construction Fraud Task Force into AGL began in February 2018 after a complaint from Ironworkers Local 361. Approximately 500 workers had not been paid the correct amount of overtime compensation, and when they approached AGL, they were told that there was nothing to be done about it. AGL also filed fraudulent wage information with state authorities.
- AGL pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny, and company official Dominick Lofaso pleaded guilty to a Class D felony for grand larceny. Under a five-year payment plan, the company will pay back a total of $6.2 million, which includes contributions due to the New York State Unemployment Insurance Fund.
Authorities all over the country are battling wage theft in the construction industry. Some cases are more severe than others, but all are aimed at cheating workers out of the money that is due to them.
New Jersey lawmakers recently passed a set of new laws aimed at cracking down on employers that engage in wage theft and other wage-related violations.
Under New Jersey’s Wage Theft Act, employees who can prove their employers owe them back pay will not only be entitled to the wages due but also up to 200% of the unpaid amount, plus reimbursement of reasonable costs and attorneys' fees. The statute of limitations in New Jersey has also increased from two years to six. The new regulations also give an employee a cause of action against his or her employer if the employer retaliates against the employee for making a wage theft claim.
In addition, New Jersey employers that knowingly engage in wage theft face higher monetary fines and possible imprisonment upon conviction.
In July, a federal judge in California sentenced contractor Job Torres Hernandez to almost nine years in prison as part of an extreme wage theft case. Torres was convicted on charges of forced labor and harboring illegal aliens for commercial advantage or private financial gain. He must also pay $919,738 in unpaid wages as restitution.
Torres, who operated several construction businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area, lured undocumented Mexican nationals to the U.S. with the promise of construction jobs. However, Torres made some work long hours without pay and locked some up in squalid accommodations without toilets and showers when they were not working. Torres also made threats of deportation and physical harm if the workers reported their mistreatment to the authorities.