A lawsuit was recently filed in Federal Court by employees of a Bronx car wash seeking unpaid wages and overtime. This suit is apparently part of a campaign by an organization called WASH New York which seeks to use the power of the judicial system to take action to protect the rights of employees in the workplace.
The claims raised in the suit relate to being paid less than the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and not being paid proper over time for working more than forty hours per week. The employees are also working in conjunction with various employee rights organizations to possibly unionize and have better and safer working conditions, such as safety goggles and gloves when working with certain chemicals.
Several governmental entities have attempted to intervene in these cases. For example, New York City Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio has stated that New York City should cancel its contracts with this car wash because of these allegations of its failure to comply with the applicable wage and hour laws. Additionally, the New York City Council has legislation presently pending which would further regulate the car wash industry.
Employers in many different industries frequently prey on employees who may not be legal immigrants and have poor language skills. Often times, employees are singled out and targeted based on their national origin - which is discriminatory. In these cases, employees might not report any potential violations of the relevant laws for fear of retaliation and possibly losing their job. Additionally, employees who many not be legal immigrants are frequently in fear of deportation or other immigration-related problems. It is highly possible that employers may threaten their employees with termination or reporting them to the INS if they object to the inappropriate treatment in the workplace.
An article regarding this issue was recently in
The New York Daily News.
Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP represents plaintiffs in cases of employment discrimination and retaliation under the federal, state, and city laws.