We work hard. Shouldn’t we get paid for it?

More and more workers are getting cheated out of wages. We’re not getting the minimum wage, or overtime pay, or wages for all the hours that we work. Some estimate that $1 billion a year is stolen from workers in New York City alone. Employers are using many tricks to cheat workers out of our pay. Once workers go to the Department of Labor or file lawsuits, employers are shutting down their businesses (only to reopen under another name), “selling” their homes to family members, filing for bankruptcy and emptying their bank accounts. By the time workers win a settlement agreement or court judgment, employers have hidden all their assets and plead poverty.

Workers get robbed of wages. Our government gets cheated of payroll taxes. Legitimate businesses are undermined by scofflaw employers. This hurts working families, law-abiding businesses, and our state’s economy.

De Ping Song, nail salon worker:

“We started a picket at the nail salon to demand he stop transferring assets and pay the workers now. We held a press conference to send out a message and launched boycott but he still continued to do this and not pay the workers. We got the judgment but we cannot collect money. Workers don’t have protection under the law and the law is only helping the rich people.”

Jinming Cao, restaurant worker:

“After we filed the lawsuit, they shut down the restaurant and opened about 2 blocks away, very close to restaurant. 90% of workers went to the new restaurant. About 2 weeks later, they opened the restaurant they shut down with a new name. We believed both the restaurants now were owned by same boss because the restaurant had the same people working there. We found out that one of the cooks still work at the first restaurant.
We also found out that he owned a house in Fresh Meadows. The lawyers told us that the boss had no business and no money. So we went to the house and talked to the tenants and they said that he was still the owner, and that he came every month to collect the rent. But the lawyers told us that he already sold the house.
We got a judgment in court for 1.8 million dollars but we haven’t collected a penny. Its only a piece of paper.”

Carlos Rodriguez, Domino’s Pizza worker:

“I thought the Department of Labor was so lazy and that they don’t care about workers. I was thinking, what are they doing? What are they doing with all that time and with all these cases? Why don’t they send my case to the Attorney General’s office?

My experience with the lawsuit was bad too- my boss declared bankruptcy. He tried to shut down the restaurant. He was lying to the court, even his bankruptcy was fake. We cannot collect the back wages, everything we were owed.

I felt very angry because its not the truth. The bankruptcy was fake- me and my co-workers knew they they have a condominium, have 4 stores and he wrote a book “Hire the American Dream” and he makes a millions of dollars a year and he’s a favorite of the corporation. And they do that because its very easy to declare bankruptcy.”

Nail Salon Worker:

“My boss shut down the nail salon and sold other nail salons. He sold his house in Long Island. The boss sold one nail salon to his friend. Another nail salon he owned he sold to his niece for a very low price. We think he sold his house to his friend too. But we know he still owns the nail salon that he gave to his niece because he still goes to the nail salon to pay wages and pick up the money.”

Yan Zhang, nail salon worker:

“We win all this case and we got a judgment but it doesn’t mean victory. because until now, the boss still not comply with the law, not comply with the judgment.
The first thing they did was to fire all of us. Then they transfer assets- the transfer the company name to their family member’s name, including their properties. They closed down the nail salon and reopen using son’s name. They file for fake bankruptcy. Even the judge said that it was a fake bankruptcy.”