March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010
August 2010
September 2010 October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019 August 2019 September 2019 October 2019 November 2019 December 2019 January 2020 February 2020 March 2020 April 2020 May 2020 June 2020 July 2020 August 2020 September 2020 October 2020 November 2020 December 2020 January 2021 February 2021 March 2021 April 2021 May 2021 June 2021 July 2021 August 2021 September 2021 October 2021 November 2021 December 2021 January 2022 February 2022 March 2022 April 2022 May 2022 June 2022 July 2022 August 2022 September 2022 October 2022 November 2022 December 2022 January 2023 February 2023 March 2023 April 2023 May 2023 June 2023 July 2023 August 2023 September 2023 October 2023 November 2023 December 2023 January 2024 February 2024 March 2024 April 2024
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
News Every Day |

Plan to fight wage theft is taking shape in a CT city. Why it’s not easy in any community.

Plan to fight wage theft is taking shape in a CT city. Why it’s not easy in any community.

Some businesses employ creative tactics to avoid paying their employees. They write bad checks, misclassify workers, falsify work hours or simply not pay them at all.

Lina Segura, for example, says she worked multiple 80+ hour workweeks last year and was not paid thousands in wages. But that’s just a fraction of at least $17 million identified as stolen from workers across Connecticut since 2019 after thousands of state investigations.

John Jairo Lugo, co-founder of immigrant rights organization Unidad Latina en Acción, is fed up. For over a decade, he’s pushed for an idea: What if a city’s health department could suspend or revoke the food and beverage licenses of cafés, bars and restaurants that commit labor violations?

After advocating for the idea since 2013, a version of it could soon become a city ordinance in New Haven. Eamon Coburn, a member of the HAVEN medical-legal partnership at Yale University, which provides legal services and works with health care providers to tackle non-medical factors that affect people’s health, presented the idea to city officials in June 2023, according to the New Haven Independent. Since then, a draft of the ordinance has been in the works.

Once they overcome some legal hurdles, the ordinance could be formally introduced. If it passes, New Haven would join several cities, from Boston to San Francisco, that have created wage-theft deterrents at the local level.

Small case, big impact

Working seven days a week, from 7 a.m. through 8 p.m., at a restaurant was a typical week for Lina Segura. It’s how she provided for her son with her husband. But after several 80+ hour workweeks last year, she said, the restaurant stopped paying her for weeks at a time, amounting to thousands in owed wages.

After submitting a complaint to the state Department of Labor with the help of ULA, Segura received a letter from the agency that said they could not locate her boss since the restaurant was no longer in business and the owner’s home address was not a viable address. But Unidad Latina en Acción found out that the boss would be in court for a separate case.

“So we tell them [Department of Labor], ‘If you go to the judicial website, you’ll find that he has court in Milford, and you can go and give him the order to pay back the workers who he stole money from,’” said Lugo.

Nobody from the Labor Department showed up, but they did get in touch with the owner’s attorney, and it was agreed he would mail the checks with Segura’s owed wages to the state. A few weeks later, Segura received almost $5,000 from the Labor Department that was sent there, about half of what she says she’s owed, according to correspondence and checks reviewed by The Connecticut Mirror. The Labor Department is evaluating whether the owner owes civil penalties.

The entire process took 13 months, from the time she says she submitted her complaint in February 2023 to receiving some relief in March 2024.

Why a city ordinance?

ULA has long advocated for more worker protections and harsher punishments against businesses that do not pay owed wages, as far back as the early 2000s. In 2005, it advocated for ideas that would involve the city’s police department, and in 2013, it sent New Haven officials an idea that is identical to what is being proposed now, but no progress was made at the time.

And during those years, the number of wage complaints submitted to the state has risen while the number of staffers that investigates those claims has decreased. State investigations can lead to fines, civil penalties and possible jail time.

“The problem is that the labor department doesn’t have enough resources to make the investigations,” said Lugo in Spanish. “If they see you stealing…they’re going to detain you, and they’re calling the police. But if I work for a company fixing up a roof and after a week of work my boss doesn’t pay me and I go to the police, they’ll say, ‘You have to go to the Department of Labor.’”

The department currently has about 1,000 cases that are yet to be assigned to an investigator, creating months-long waits for workers to have their cases heard. A bill to increase investigative staff failed in last year’s state legislative session, and this year the bill’s future is uncertain, given tight budget constraints. People can also submit complaints at the federal labor department, but it’s also experiencing backlogs, and for workers who opt to sue their boss, the process can be lengthy. Thousands of small claims cases are pending in court.

With this backlog, Lugo is even more compelled to get this city ordinance to the finish line.

Restaurants across the state were ordered to pay back more than $3 million to almost 2,000 employees since 2012 after federal law violations, according to a review of federal wage claim data by The Connecticut Mirror last year. That doesn’t include state labor violations or court cases. At the national level, food and drink service workers make up a quarter of all workers suffering minimum wage violations, the largest share of any industry, according to an analysis of survey data by the Economic Policy Institute in 2017.

The president and chief executive officer of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, Scott Dolch, thinks it should be up to state legislators to find a solution.

“Penalties already exist to penalize those who violate labor and wage laws. Any policy changes in this arena should be addressed by the state legislature,” said Dolch.

A senior policy associate from the Connecticut Business Industry Association, Ashley Zane, said a proposal like this would raise concerns if it would give the city additional health and labor enforcement capabilities.

“We have a Department of Labor and Department of Public Health. They really are the subject matter experts in those areas. Asking another department to take on that level of expertise, being required to stay up to date on what the law is, what precedents, what’s going on with certain cases, that’s asking a lot from that department’s staff, who most likely is already overworked,” said Zane.

Zane thinks the solution should lie with the state Department of Labor, particularly by increasing staff at the agency and making funding a priority. A bill currently being considered in the state legislature would increase the number of wage and hour inspectors.

Why involve the city’s health department?

The Yale team suggests giving the city’s health department the authority to revoke licenses because they say wage theft is a public health issue and one of the many social determinants of health, which are non-medical factors that influence health outcomes as defined by the World Health Organization and by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Employment and income will also affect your health,” said Coburn, adding that having one’s wages stolen can lead to homelessness, hunger and lack of access to medical care and transportation. “That public health lens is what is underneath this proposal.”

But according to a letter sent by the city’s legal department to New Haven alders, it’s not legal to give the health department that authority. Coburn and his colleagues now have to fine-tune the idea so that it complies with current laws.

“While the City sympathizes with the victims of wage theft and other labor law violations, the City is constrained in providing relief through the requested ordinance because the City and the Health Department’s authority to perform certain functions are limited by state law,” reads a legal opinion written by the city’s corporation counsel Patricia King and sent to the board last July.

King notes that Connecticut laws allow “municipalities to exercise power over areas such as finances and appropriation, public services, property, public works, public utilities, traffic, and public safety. Nowhere in this statute does the General Assembly grant municipalities the authority to regulate labor and employment violations.”

To make a city law like this feasible, it would require state legislators at the Capitol to pass a law that gives cities that power, King wrote. Right now, only the state Department of Labor has the authority to enforce wage and hour violations.

“As such, it would be worthwhile to encourage and support our state legislative delegation in enacting appropriate statutory changes,” wrote King.

Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, said he’d consider such a law but would need more details about implementation.

Martin M. Looney
CLARICE SILBER/CTMIRROR.ORG
Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven. CLARICE SILBER/CTMIRROR.ORG

“It’s certainly something that we would evaluate. I’m always supportive of protecting the rights of labor and to do anything that will help provide stronger enforcement of wage and employment laws and worker protections,” said Looney. “One of the questions would be, would the municipal health department be doing an investigation itself? It would require a lot more resources and be more difficult to do and would be quite a burden on the town to fund.”

Last year, after hearing concerns from ULA, Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven, introduced a bill that would have increased the number of wage and hour inspectors at the state Department of Labor, but it failed to move past the Appropriations Committee.

Lemar could not be reached for comment.

Finding other ways

In the face of the city’s limited capacity, King suggested other ways to crack down on wage theft in the city.

One idea she mentioned is to enact a city law requiring any business renewing or applying for a license to verify that they are following state and federal employment laws, an approach that is already underway in cities such as Jersey City, New Jersey, and Somerville and Northampton in Massachusetts, according to King. This doesn’t require giving the city’s health department any authority, so it knocks down the initial legal roadblock.

A second alternative is to assign an officer from the New Haven Police Department to act as a liaison with the state Department of Labor to streamline labor complaints, which King notes would make use of city resources, but it is unknown if it would be useful in alleviating the backlog of cases.

There are other cities and counties across the country that have implemented their own programs to deter wage theft.

“Localities nationally are increasingly playing an important role in protecting and advancing workers’ rights in a number of ways,” said Terri Gerstein, a workers’ rights lawyer of more than 20 years who served in leadership roles within labor departments in New York, was a researcher at Harvard Law School and the Economic Policy Institute and now heads the NYU Wagner Labor Initiative.

Her research finds that cities nationwide have passed laws regarding municipal minimum wages and required paid sick leave, among other actions that provide worker protections. Gerstein notes that a handful of cities are specifically targeting the permitting and licensing process, much like the idea proposed to New Haven alders.

“It’s a perfectly reasonable expectation that, if you’re going to operate a business and get a permit from the state, that a business should have to follow the laws,” Gerstein told the CT Mirror. “Having a permit suspended is real economic harm. It is reputational harm. There may be perishables in the restaurant. So it is really a very significant thing to think about, being closed for five days or more, having the permit suspended.”

Among the towns targeting licensing and permitting requirements are Philadelphia, Jersey City, Toledo and Seattle, among others, according to Gerstein’s research.

One program using an approach that is similar to the one proposed in New Haven has been underway in Santa Clara County in California since 2019. The Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement uses the county’s power to suspend the food permits of businesses found not having paid owed wages after an investigation. In the 2023 fiscal year, the program is said to have collected over $140,000 in wages for workers. Along with collecting wages, the office heading the program also conducts trainings, handles a legal advice line and offers community legal services.

Gerstein lays out some challenges in her research regarding programs that target the licensing and permitting process, including the need for increased staff and resources, outreach to employers and possibly leaving workers out of jobs if a business were forced to stop operations. As for the last point, she said the programs can be set up to ensure that businesses have enough time to reach compliance or to negotiate a settlement.

Next steps

Coburn and the rest of the Yale team, including law student Cat Gassiot and the director of the partnership, James Bhandary-Alexander, are evaluating the feedback from the city’s legal department and are working it into the draft of the potential ordinance.

Coburn notes that the draft is being prepared such that it doesn’t inconvenience businesses.

“These sorts of ordinances seek to enforce the existing laws. It’s not seeking to impose additional burdens on responsible employers who are already in compliance with the law.”

While the Yale team handles the legalese, New Haven alders are still adjusting to their new terms before taking any major steps.

“I think we’re pretty far from passing an ordinance,” said New Haven Alder Sarah Miller, who represents the city’s 14th Ward and who has been in discussions regarding the proposed idea. “I think we’re not to the place of putting it forward formally. It’s really just to inform conversation.”

Without providing a specific timeline, Miller said their first step is focusing on organizing the committees at City Hall, given that there is a new term along with new alders. In the meantime, city officials are also considering ways to facilitate the process of making state wage claims with public education and outreach and a potential task force to study the topic in more depth.

“For me it’s a priority, just because so many of the people in the neighborhood that I represent are impacted by this. Fair Haven is our immigrant neighborhood. And so, we have a lot of restaurants that employ folks that are undocumented, and we just want to come up with some improvements to the system,” said Miller.

Whatever way New Haven decides to do it, she said it’ll take some time.

José Luis Martínez is a reporter for The Connecticut Mirror (https://ctmirror.org/ ). Copyright 2024 © The Connecticut Mirror.

Москва

Собянин: на набережных в Парке Горького оборудуют места для пляжного отдыха

Четвертый том в серии ко Дню космонавтики

Couple who won Come Dine With Me posed as customs officers to steal drugs as part of scam

The Masters 2024: Rory McIlroy feels he can still win at Augusta National despite swing ‘feeling horrific’ in round two

Danielle Serdachny scores OT goal to lift Canada to 6-5 win over US in women’s hockey world final

Ria.city






Read also

Los Gatos: ‘Mr. Flip It’ headed to the big house after grand theft conviction

‘Rebel Moon’ sequel offers more action, backstory of warriors

No. 10 Glenelg baseball outlasts River Hill, 1-0, in pitchers’ duel

News, articles, comments, with a minute-by-minute update, now on Today24.pro

News Every Day

Четвертый том в серии ко Дню космонавтики

Today24.pro — latest news 24/7. You can add your news instantly now — here


News Every Day

Men’s volleyball: Long Beach sweeps UCI for Big West title; top seeds win in MIVA tourney



Sports today


Новости тенниса
Елена Рыбакина

Появилось «закулисное» видео Елены Рыбакиной



Спорт в России и мире
Москва

Наследие «Игр будущего»



All sports news today





Sports in Russia today

Москва

Кубок России. ЦСКА уверенно шагает в финал пути РПЛ.


Новости России

Game News

Шапки женские вязаные на Wildberries, 2024 — новый цвет от 392 руб. (модель 466)


Russian.city


Москва

Правительства и законодатели могут закрыть все фермы.


Губернаторы России
РФ

Глава МЧС РФ Куренков: в село Илек Оренбургской области направлены спасатели


Правительства и законодатели могут закрыть все фермы.

Почему ВИЧ называют провокацией глобалистов. История чумы ХХ века

На Крестовском путепроводе в Москве столкнулись несколько автомобилей

Шапки женские вязаные на Wildberries, 2024 — новый цвет от 392 руб. (модель 466)


Лоза счёл полупустой зал на концерте Серова в Угличе знаком

Мать Тимати раскритиковали в сети из-за нового видео с внучкой

Сергей Шнуров объяснил, почему ему не нравятся Земфира и ДДТ

Бывшая возлюбленная Тимати сообщила о новом романе


Финалисты «Мастерса» в Монте‑Карло опередили Рублева в рейтинге ATP

Полина Кудерметова проиграла Плишковой в первом круге турнира WTA в Руане

Елена Рыбакина поднялась в мировом рейтинге

Карлос Алькарас снялся с турнира ATP-500 в Барселоне



Шапки женские на Wildberries — скидки от 398 руб. (на новые оттенки)

Компания «Наносемантика» усовершенствовала обработку входящих вызовов КАПИТАЛ LIFE с помощью искусственного интеллекта

«Калмыкия стала точкой объединения народов всей страны»: в Элисте стартовал Первый Фестиваль национальных театров России

Правительства и законодатели могут закрыть все фермы.


Солнечный подарок от Эвелины Блёданс для воспитанников Особого семейного центра «Семь-Я»

Потомок поэта Александра Пушкина умерла из-за проблем с сердцем

Выставка мультографики «Сны смешного человека» откроется в Пскове

В Бурятском театре оперы и балета пройдет сольный концерт Елены Мохосовой


В Москве 17 апреля ожидается облачная погода, местами небольшой дождь

Автомобили УАЗ планируют собирать во Вьетнаме

Люди с этой группой крови чаще всего становятся алкоголиками: ученые провели целое исследование

Предполагаемого помощника террористов из "Крокуса" Касимова оставили под стражей



Путин в России и мире






Персональные новости Russian.city
Юрий Лоза

Певец Юрий Лоза посоветовал Серову задуматься над качеством своей музыки



News Every Day

Men’s volleyball: Long Beach sweeps UCI for Big West title; top seeds win in MIVA tourney




Friends of Today24

Музыкальные новости

Персональные новости