En EspaƱol Know Your Rights
Source: New York Daily News
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Mexican workers paid only in tips set to test new wage-theft law by confronting their employer

Three Mexican immigrants who say they toiled in a nightclub for nothing but tips are poised to be the first workers to confront their bosses under the protection of a new law.

"It’s very difficult to confront the owners and tell them to pay us what they owe," said bar back Marco Antonio Jacal, 41.

He planned to give his bosses at the tony West Village club Veranda a letter asking for back wages, feeling secure that if they even threaten retaliation they face a $10,000 fine. The fines have been in effect for only four days under the state’s new Wage Theft Prevention Act.

Jacal’s co-worker Ruben Espejel, 33, who lives in Jackson Heights, Queens, said he collected wages for the first three months, then only tips. He said when he complained, the manager stopped putting him on the schedule – punishment that is now illegal.

He and Jacal vowed to file a complaint with the state Labor Department if their bosses don’t pay up.

Lawyers at the nonprofit Make the Road New York estimate they and a third worker are owed $159,000 in wages and damages. Veranda’s owners did not return a call for comment.

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