Manhattan District Attorney Announces Creation of Office’s First “Worker Protection Unit” to Combat Wage Theft

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, announced the creation of the Office’s first-ever Worker Protection Unit to investigate and prosecute wage theft and other forms of worker harassment and exploitation across Manhattan’s many industries. The Worker Protection Unit will pursue criminal charges against individuals and corporations that jeopardize their workers’ safety and steal their wages.

D.A. Bragg also announced the creation of a first-ever Stolen Wage Fund for Manhattan victims of wage theft, funded through the D.A.’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative and operated in partnership with the New York State Department of Labor, and in an effort to allow the Unit to bring appropriately strong charges against individuals and companies that cheat their workers, D.A. Bragg joined Assemblymember Catalina Cruz and State Senator Neil Breslin to support their bill that would enable prosecutors to charge wage theft as larceny.

“At the Manhattan D.A.’s office, we’re holding accountable companies and executives that exploit their workers, whether by jeopardizing their safety or stealing their wages,” said District Attorney Bragg. “The creation of the Office’s first-ever Worker Protection Unit is our latest move to stand up for hard-working New Yorkers. Again and again, we see companies taking advantage of our most vulnerable populations, including low-income and undocumented New Yorkers, and abusing power imbalances to line their pockets. Together with our partners in law enforcement, the legislature, the community, and beyond, we will make sure workers are treated fairly, and bad faith employers who violate the laws are held accountable for their crimes.”

“District Attorney Bragg’s new Worker Protection Unit and Stolen Wage Fund are welcomed tools in the Department of Labor’s continued efforts to protect all working New Yorkers,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “Wage theft is not only pervasive and opportunistic crime that plagues the most vulnerable of our communities, it is a workplace plight city and statewide. It causes millions of dollars in lost wages, draining the resources of city and state agencies and detrimentally impacting the lives of tens of thousands of New Yorkers and their families,” saidAssemblymember Catalina Cruz. “It is time that we begin prosecuting the right people- those who take advantage of workers who are too afraid or otherwise incapable of accessing the law.

“New York’s construction industry is polluted with crooked contractors whose very business model is based on exploiting and stealing from the city’s most vulnerable workers—immigrants, people of color, and the formerly incarcerated.  I hope the word gets out to unscrupulous employers everywhere–continue to cheat workers and prepare to find yourself either in jail or out of business,” said Michael E. Hellstrom, Vice President Laborers’ International Union of North America. “Immigrant workers are among some of the most vulnerable to the pandemic of wage theft. Wage theft is a systemic abuse that needs to be rooted out from all industries and be addressed as a high-priority issue,” said Nilbia Coyote, Executive Director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE).

If you believe you are victim of wage theft, please contact the attorneys at Pechman Law Group at 212-583-9500. We have recovered over 20 million dollars on behalf of workers who have been cheated out of their overtime or have been subjected to other unlawful pay practices.


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