June 10, 2014
By Stephanie West
Albany, New York – The state Department of Labor doesn’t complete many of its wage theft investigations in a timely manner, allowing thousands of cases to remain unresolved for a year or more, according to an New York State Comptroller audit
“It is imperative that DOL do a better job resolving wage theft cases as workers across New York are often waiting too long for the compensation they rightly deserve,” Comptroller DiNapoli said. “While wage theft investigations are generally complex and time-intensive, any lags pose a risk that complications, such as lost records, could arise and interfere with an investigation and possible settlement.”
Wage theft is the illegal holding of wages or denial of benefits to a worker by an employer. Examples include failing to pay overtime, not giving workers their last paycheck after they leave a job or not paying for all the hours the employee worked.
DiNapoli’s auditors found that, as of August 26, 2013, DOL had more than 17,000 open cases, an increase of about 150 percent from the 7,000 cases on hand at the start of 2008. The current caseload consists of about 9,300 active investigations and more than 7,800 cases pending payment. Of these, almost 13,000, or 75 percent, were at least one year old from initial claim date.
The increasing backlog stems largely from system and process deficiencies that hinder timely investigations, coupled with a limited number of staff to perform the growing amount of work.