New York City construction workers allege wage-and-hour violations

Recently, the New York City Council voted to override Mayor Bloomberg's veto of a bill requiring the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to report subsidies given to city-funded projects and wage information of individuals working for developers or contractors on its website.

The legislation also mandates that the HPD provide a listing of "pre-qualified" and "disqualified" developers. The bill exempts businesses with under $2.5 million in annual review.

The mayor and others opposed the measure because they said it was a means to coerce contractors to hire only union workers and that it placed a burden on small minority and women-owned businesses who could not afford the reporting requirements, thereby landing them on the "disqualified" list.

Prior to the city council vote to override the veto, a union-led investigation had alleged that construction workers building affordable housing for the city had been paid off the books and were being cheated out of wages and benefits. The HPD stated that the claims were unsubstantiated and that no official complaints had been filed.

The City Council originally passed the bill in a 45-0 vote in July. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said that the case against the wage-reporting requirement was "preposterous" since builders are already required to collect certain payroll information and that the goal of the bill was "to bring transparency to how taxpayer dollars are spent on affordable housing."

Prevailing wage and benefit requirements

New York labor laws require that employers provide construction workers with written notice of wage rates, overtime pay and benefits. Contractors working under a public contract must pay their construction employees the prevailing rate of wage and benefits set for public work projects.

New York state laws that ensure construction workers receive adequate pay include: The Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA); minimum wage laws; Article 8 of New York state labor laws; and the New York Construction Industry Fair Play Act.

If you are a construction worker who has been denied fair and complete wages under a public housing contract project, it is advisable to seek out an experienced New York City wage and hour lawyer. Complicated labor laws mean it sometimes requires an attorney to advise which provisions apply to your case and help you reclaim the wages and benefits you are due.