By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Two hundred and eighty-four construction workers in the Bronx will receive a total of $1.23 million in back pay as part of a settlement over unpaid overtime, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Monday.
Mr. Cuomo said the construction workers had not received time and a half for the overtime they had worked while renovating a dozen apartment buildings on the Grand Concourse, Gerard Avenue and elsewhere in the Bronx. He said the workers had received straight pay, regardless of how many hours they worked above 40 each week.
Mr. Cuomo’s office reached a settlement with two companies, J. Siebold Construction and Finkelstein-Morgan, which owns and manages real estate, without bringing a lawsuit against them.
“New York’s construction workers are the backbone of this city’s economy, but these companies sought to stiff almost 300 Bronx construction workers out of the overtime pay they earned and deserve,” Mr. Cuomo said.
“Today’s settlement will turn over $1.2 million to these workers and also send a serious message to employers across the state: Time-and-a-half pay for work over 40 hours a week is the law in New York State, and if an employer ignores that law, we will take action.”
The settlement is part of efforts by the attorney general and the State Labor Department to crack down on wage theft, which includes forcing employees to work off the clock, erasing hours they have worked and not paying time and a half for overtime.
The agreement calls for J. Siebold to pay $1.07 million in back wages and $160,000 in interest and penalties, while Finkelstein-Morgan serves as the guarantor of the payments. The violations occurred from October 2002 to August 2006, according to the attorney general’s office.
Under the settlement, the attorney general’s office will monitor the companies’ time and payroll practices to ensure their compliance until 2010.
Also under the settlement, the two companies are banned from retaliating in any way against employees who cooperated or were perceived as cooperating in the investigation.
Dennis A. Lalli, a lawyer for J. Siebold and Finkelstein-Morgan, said, “We cooperated fully with the agency, and I think the parties are in agreement that the final settlement was fair to all involved.”
Steven Finkelstein, a partner in Finkelstein-Morgan, said that his company owned the buildings and that J. Siebold was doing the renovations. Mr. Finkelstein said that because Mr. Cuomo came after both companies, “I had to be part of the settlement.” Of J. Siebold, he said, “They’re as embarrassed about this as we are.”
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE