Governor Cuomo Announces More Wage Theft Cases Resolved in 2013 Than Ever Before

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6,700 Cases Resolved and $23 Million Disbursed as Administration Works to Make New York State Fairer.

Albany, NY - February 11, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that more than 6,700 wage theft cases were resolved in New York in 2013, more than in any other year. This resulted in the disbursement of nearly $23 million to more than 12,700 workers who were not paid their proper minimum wage, overtime pay or fringe benefits. This represents an increase of more than 12 percent in the number of closed wage theft cases compared to 2012.

“My administration has made it a priority to ensure workers in New York receive the compensation they deserve from their employers,” Governor Cuomo said. “When employers don’t pay proper wages and benefits under the law, not only is it illegal, but it is also unfair to the majority of other businesses in New York that do follow the rules. These figures from last year show that the State will not tolerate the abuse of workers and we will continue to actively defend their rights. I urge any worker who needs our help with labor issues to contact the Department of Labor immediately.”

The New York State Department of Labor (DOL), which has one of the largest labor standards enforcement staffs in the nation, continues to recover millions of dollars in stolen wages each year for workers through consistent and active enforcement.

“This is about much more than just numbers. This is about men and women who worked hard and were not paid their proper wages,” said DOL Commissioner Peter M. Rivera. “I urge any worker who believes he or she is being cheated out of money to contact the Department of Labor so we can investigate.”

In 2013, 6,533 new cases were opened and a total of 6,794 cases were closed. That is an increase of 36% in the number of cases brought to completion and closed as compared to 2012. 2013 also marks the first year in recent memory that more cases were closed than were opened, which is a direct result of changes to DOL’s investigative procedures.

Prior to 2013, DOL’s labor standards policy for investigations was to look back six years, which delayed many cases by forcing investigators to conduct lengthy searches for documents that no longer existed and interview individuals who did not remember that far back.

In 2013, the agency updated the look-back period to three years for most cases, which is still broader than both the federal government’s standard (two years) and the standard in most other states (one or two years). Updating this policy has ensured that the state can return money owed to workers more expeditiously. Since then, DOL has aggressively addressed its caseload and has resolved nearly all cases opened before 2011, thereby ensuring that workers will receive owed wages and receive those wages quickly.

In addition to this policy change, the investigative process is now being handled more efficiently. By the end of fiscal year 2014, DOL is aiming to have the average investigation completed in less than six months. In the first six months after the new policy change, the number of cases closed within six months has increased 54 percent. An annual breakdown of the percentage of cases completed since 2008 is as follows:

    Year
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
    Investigations Completed
100%
100%
95%
78%
71%
58%

The department’s change in policy has also had a very direct impact on reducing existing caseload. Over the course of 2013, overall caseload decreased by 13 percent – reversing a longstanding trend of annual net caseload growth due to outdated policies.

Additional policy changes that have contributed to the above successes include closing more cases through early settlement compliance conferences when appropriate, improving communication procedures with both claimants and employers and imposing strict time frames when requesting information from employers.

Anyone with questions about minimum wage or other labor standards issues, or who wishes to file a complaint, should call: 1-888-4NYSDOL (469-7365).

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