Immigrant Workers Hunt Back Wages on Long Island

New York’s minimum wage and proper overtime pay are the subject of many federal investigations on employers from low-wage industries on Long Island, who deny their workers their legal right to fair payment under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), leading to wage and hour violations. Long Island has a high population of Hispanic immigrants who fight to recover their wages every day.

Wages Cheated from Immigrant Workers Amount to Millions of Dollars 

Mama’s Pizzeria & Restaurant, Copiague

Fear and desperation are the feelings that drove an employee to work more than 70 hours a week at Mama’s Pizzeria and Restaurant in Copiague, N.Y., for a little more than $5 an hour.

“My boss used to pay us in cash and he paid us whatever he liked,” said the undocumented immigrant from Central America who did not want to use his real name for fear of losing his job at the restaurant. “He also used to deduct $40 from my salary for taxes.”

A U.S. Labor Department investigation found that the New York’s mandatory $7.25 minimum wage and proper overtime pay had been routinely denied to the 29- year-old immigrant for the past several years. What happened to him is not uncommon. In fact, statistics estimate that employers nationwide save millions of dollars a year by defying labor laws and underpaying employees.

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