This summary about minimum wage theft in New York was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.
There are more than 662,000 restaurant workers employed in New York state. About 20% of them are undocumented immigrants, and when their employers steal their wages, they are left with limited options for justice.
Reporters Dhivya Sridar and Mrinali Dhembla tell the story of Alfonso Victoria, who moved to New York from Mexico in 2016.
After Victoria’s employer denied him his complete wages multiple times, he decided to log his hours to show how much he worked. But his employer refused to believe him, and Victoria was fired after speaking about his mistreatment to the owner of a nearby restaurant.
Labor advocates criticize New York State’s Department of Labor for a complicated and slow process that discourages many workers from filing wage theft complaints. Undocumented immigrant workers face more challenges, including difficulty in navigating the legal process due to language barriers, and fear of repercussions such as deportation.
Some workers who successfully filed complaints with NYS DOL have had their cases stuck in limbo, and investigations were further delayed during the pandemic as the agency prioritized other matters.
It all combines into dire consequences for New York restaurant workers, who are guaranteed that their employers make up the difference if they earn less than minimum wage in tips — but are left with few options for recourse.
Read the full report exclusively on Documented.
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