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Know Your Rights
Source: Metro
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

State to crack down on labor violations

Angel Hernandez unloaded
boxes and stocked shelves at a C-Town on Williamsburg’s
Graham Avenue
for more than four years. He worked 72 hours a week for $400.

Unhappy with his situation,
he talked to the state Department of Labor officials and promptly lost his job.
“They made us sign a blank time sheet, so they didn’t have to pay overtime,”
Hernandez said through a translator.


Now the
agency is investigating Hernandez’s supermarket.


Complaints of wage and labor violations** are on the rise at low-end supermarkets, gourmet
grocers, coffee shops and four-star restaurants, state labor officials said.
The agency fielded 8,000 cases in 2008; this year, it’s up to 10,000, Deputy
Labor Commissioner Terri Gerstein said yesterday. She was standing in front of
a Bushwick Key Food to announce the results of a sweep involving eight
supermarkets where baggers worked long hours for tips alone.


Six of the stores agreed to
pay some 39 past and present baggers $317,687. The agency estimates the other
two owe nearly $400,000.


Penalties can be toothless.
The agency can fine employers who retaliate against workers who speak out $200
to $2,000. A bill under consideration in Albany
would increase penalties to $1,000 to $10,000.


**Make the Road New York (MRNY) has been instrumental in the NYS Department of Labor’s
wage violation crackdown.