Governor Launches Hotline to Report Worker Exploitation, Wage and Workplace Violations: 1-888-469-7365

Cuomo_End Worker Exploitation 07152015


“If there is a state that is going to take a stand against worker exploitation, it is New York,” said Governor Cuomo. “New York offers a promise that our arms and hearts are open to those who come here to work and build a better future for themselves – and we will not tolerate worker exploitation, period. It’s not a Democratic or a Republican issue – it’s what we believe, and together we’re going to make this a reality.”

Sounding like a Presidential candidate, Governor Cuomo ended his remarks saying, “If there’s a state that’s going to stand up and say, “we celebrate immigration and we demand you respect the human dignity of workers and immigrants and enforce the law.” It’s New York. It’s not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue; it’s a New York issue. It’s who we are it’s what we believe and it’s what we’re going to enforce and we’re going to do it in this state and then we’re going to say to the rest of the nation, “this is how you treat immigrants and this is how you welcome immigrants into New York and this nation.” Our success is built on what we’ve done together and together this is going to make it a reality.”

The multi-agency Task Force is a critical addition to New York’s fight against worker exploitation and builds on the Governor’s initiative protecting workers in nail salons. The Governor was joined today by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to sign legislation that helps protect nail salon employees from unsafe working conditions and unfair labor practices.

Speaker Heastie said, “Worker exploitation is pervasive problem across many industries. Governor Cuomo’s Task Force will examine workers’ rights and conditions across our state and I look forward to the recommendations.”

Task Force to Combat Worker Exploitation

The Task Force will begin by addressing issues that were discovered based on worker complaints directly to the State and referrals from advocacy organizations. Workers are often victimized through wage theft, human trafficking, retaliation, unsafe or unsanitary working conditions, unstable or unscheduled hours and illegal deductions for supplies, training or uniforms.

Anyone with information of suspected worker abuse should contact the Task Force Hotline at 1-888-469-7365. Callers can remain anonymous.

“Every worker should be treated with respect and dignity – which is why Governor Cuomo’s new task force is so important. By investigating cases of worker abuse and exploitation, the state can better crack down on businesses that take advantage of their employees,” said Javier Valdes, Make The Road New York.

Enforcement efforts will focus on industries with the highest rates of employer non-compliance and where workers are least likely to come forward, for fear of retaliation. Specifically, industries were selected based on geographic or community isolation of the workforce within the industry, danger of the occupation based on reported death rates, state-wide investigator experiences, evaluation of high violation rates for complaints with a low number of complaints, prevalence of off the books employment by industry and statistics and percentage of the immigrant workforce in each industry. Initial target areas include industries such as: Nail Salons; Farming; Childcare; Cleaning; Home Health Care; Laundry; Restaurants; Retail; Construction; Landscaping; Car Washes; Supermarkets; Janitorial Services; and Truck and Waste Disposal Drivers.
The Task Force will include representatives from state agencies including the Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of Health, Workers’ Compensation Board, Department of Tax and Finance, Department of Agriculture and Markets, Office of Children and Family Services, Office of Faith Based Services, Division of Criminal Justice Services and State Police. The agencies will have more than 700 investigators, including multilingual investigators who speak: Bengali, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, Hindi, Haitian Creole, and Korean. Language access services will be available in all languages at all agencies.

“Governor Cuomo’s commitment to address conditions of worker exploitation are important to New York’s employers, most of whom are committed to responsible treatment of workers. This task force offers an opportunity for the business community to help the Governor ensure that the laws, regulations and enforcement mechanisms are in place to prevent abuse of workers,” Kathryn Wylde of the NYC Partnership.

The Task Force will work in partnership with an advisory committee that will meet monthly and is charged with providing legislative, regulatory and administrative recommendations to the administration. The committee will be charged with providing its first set of recommendations by December of this year to be considered for next year’s legislative session. Committee members include: Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSU; Esta Bigler, Cornell University ILR School; Steve Choi, New York Immigration Coalition; Anne Erickson, Empire Justice Center; Hector Figueroa, 32BJ; George Gresham, 1199; Gary La Barbera, Trades; Donna Lieberman, New York Civil Liberties Union; Dean Norton, Farm Bureau; Lewis O. Papenfuse, Worker Justice Center; Ted Potrikus, Retail Council of New York; Javier Valdes and Deborah Axe, Make the Road New York; Peter Ward, HTC; Danny Wegman, Wegmans; and Kathy Wylde, NYC Partnership. 


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