He spent 20 years working below minimum wage and the state agrees he is owed thousands – but his former employer still hasn’t paid up.
The plight of Ecuadoran-born restaurant worker Miguel Palaquibay is far from unique, but a new state law may help immigrants like him fight for a legal wage. The Wage Theft Prevention Act – which took effect three days ago – makes it illegal to even threaten to retaliate against a worker if they complain.
It also boosts fines so that employers caught underpaying have to pay back up to double what they owe.
"Too often, workers are afraid to demand the wages that they’re owed because they fear they will be fired," said Ady Barkan, who represented Palaquibay through the nonprofit Make the Road New York.
"This will make it easier for them to get the justice that they deserve."
He said the protections have already made a difference – a group of Manhattan nightclub workers paid only in tips plans to complain to the state Tuesday.
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