A rally was held outside the headquarters of Double GG Construction on Heyward Street, where advocacy group Make the Road New York used the case to highlight the need for stronger enforcement of state wage and hour laws.
“In spite of some of the strongest laws in the country, wage theft continues to be rampant in the state of New York,” said Deborah Axt, co-executive director of Make the Road New York. “Our state government has a responsibility to ensure effective compliance with wage and hour laws and should increase its investment in the New York State Department of Labor in order to ensure that this is the case.”
A Department of Labor investigation found that Double GG workers were owed more than $500,000 in overtime pay. However, four years after the original complaint was made, none of the employees have been paid.
“I worked around 12 hours a day, six days a week and was not paid overtime,” said Rafael Navor, a former employee of Double GG construction. “As workers with families to support, it’s very difficult to have to wait so long for the wages they stole from us in the first place.”
In 2011, following the Labor Department's investigation, Double GG cut back on hours and even fired several of the employees who participated in the investigation. The company has appealed the department's findings.
Make the Road New York recently released a report entitled “End Wage theft: The Case for Real Employment of New York State’s Wage and Hour Laws.”
This document states that in 2010 the National Employment Law Project found nearly $1 billion was stolen from low-wage workers every year in New York City alone.
“Strong laws on the books are only meaningful to the extent they are enforced on the ground,” said Magdalena Barbosa, supervising attorney at Make the Road New York. “New York State must dedicate the resources necessary to ensure effective and effective enforcement on the state’s workplace protection laws.”