As a conscientious employer, you realize that your staff deserves to be compensated fairly for their contributions to your business. In some industries and companies, fair compensation may be at or near the minimum wage set by the federal, state, or local government, while in others, fair compensation is much greater than that. Some employers, it seems, are willing to ignore labor laws in the interest of increasing their bottom line, but as a recent settlement in New York shows, getting caught can be a costly proposition.
It took more than five years of legal wrangling, but 18 car wash employees from the New York and New Jersey region are set to split a settlement of $1.65 million for wage theft. The settlement was finalized in federal court, and will provide each worker an average of more than $91,000, including emotional distress. All of the workers were Latin American immigrants working at four different car wash locations in New York and New Jersey, all owned by the same company.
According to reports, workers in the New York locations were making between $50 and $70 per 12-hour day, with no breaks, falling far below New York’s current $9 per hour minimum wage. New Jersey’s minimum wage is $8.38 per hour, but workers were only making $35 for 10 hours of labor. Some employees reported receiving even less than that, many of them working for years under such conditions. When one worker—an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who is now 70 years old—began looking for legal recourse, he was fired.
The owner of car washes has filed for bankruptcy, and the trustee appointed to the case has since sold the four locations. How the settlement will be paid remains unclear at this point.
Protect Your Business
When you rely on a team of employees to run your business, you owe to them to make sure they are compensated fairly for their efforts. It is also important to be sure that your company remains compliant will all applicable labor laws and regulations. At our law firm, we are dedicated to helping employers and business owners develop reasonable compensation structures that are both equitable and profitable for the company.
To learn more about how we can be of assistance to you, contact an experienced Schaumburg employment law attorney. Call 847-995-1205 to schedule an appointment with The Miller Law Firm, P.C., today and let us help you protect your business investment.