Dept. of Labor soft on BK immigrant worker rights, groups claim

(12/13/06) BROOKLYN &舑; Immigrant groups in Brooklyn say the state Department of Labor is soft when it comes to standing up for immigrant workers in the borough.

The groups are calling for sweeping reforms in the way the labor department goes after employers who disregard the law. According to the groups, many business owners don&舗;t pay immigrant workers minimum wage or overtime. Although the law stipulates the department can go after six years of back pay for an individual, the groups say only two years are typically sought. Immigrant groups claim that situation makes it more attractive for employers to risk a violation rather than paying out the proper wages

The groups are now calling for the Department of Labor to take a tougher stance on prosecuting violators. They also hope investigators can be discrete about workers making complaints to reduce the risk of retaliation. In a statement, the Department of Labor says it has a long history of pursuing violators. It also claims it has created a task force to target the problem.


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