Men raising right hand taking oath
January 30, 2024
Albany NY


Worker Protection Staff Vow to Serve and Protect New York’s Workforce

The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) today held its second Division of Worker Protection enforcement staff shield ceremony on January 30, 2024, at the New York State Police Academy in Albany. State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon administered the oath of office to 64 members of the Department’s Worker Protection Unit from across the state, who vowed to uphold and enforce state and federal labor law. These state workers are on the frontlines of New York State’s unending commitment to ensure that all working New Yorkers are safe and protected while on the job.

“These dedicated public servants are vital to the protection and safety and health of our workforce,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “These shields they possess are a symbol of their authority to enforce labor law and their commitment to protect the rights of anyone working in New York State.”

NYSDOL’s Division of Worker Protection is made up of 511 members, including 380 enforcement staff who are represented in all five of the unit’s divisions: Bureau of Public Work, Division of Compliance and Education, Division of Labor Standards, Division of Safety and Health, and the Office of Special Investigations.

Over the past decade, NYSDOL’s worker protection team has recovered and dispersed more than $376 million in stolen wages and identified over a million misclassified workers. In 2023 alone, NYSDOL’s Worker Protection investigations recovered $16 million in wages for over 16,000 workers. During investigations and inspections, NYSDOL works with many partners to ensure workers are safe and employers comply with the labor law, including New York State Police, the Department of Agriculture and Markets, local District Attorney’s Offices, the United States Department of Labor, and organized labor.

New York State Police Acting Superintendent Dominick L. Chiumento said, “I congratulate these individuals as they take this important oath. Today’s ceremony is a testament to the level of commitment these investigators have in protecting the hard-working citizens of New York. Each of these individuals honored today exemplifies what being a public servant is all about – dedication and selfless service.”

PEF President Wayne Spence said, “PEF welcomes these new officers to the ranks of the Department of Labor. They play a critical role in fulfilling one of our union’s essential missions -- protecting workers.  Whether they’re enforcing labor standards, exposing unemployment fraud, or investigating wage theft, these officers create an equitable employment landscape in New York, making sure everyone is subject to the same standards.”

As part of ongoing NYSDOL modernization, the Worker Protection Unit is unveiling updated safety equipment for their staff. The new and improved safety equipment includes:

  • Type 2 Unvented Hardhats complete with safety straps 
  • Carbon monoxide mono and multimeter detectors
  • 3000HS Heat Stress Meter monitors to detect extreme heat and cold
  • Class 3 Breakaway Tri-color safety vests

The new hardhats are designed to protect the worker’s entire head, equipped with a chin strap to prevent the hardhat from falling off as opposed to traditional hardhats that are designed to protect only the top of a worker’s head. The new Class 3 tri-color vests have a breakaway feature to ensure NYSDOL employees can get out of the vest easily if the vest becomes entangled in equipment. 

In addition to rolling out new and improved safety equipment, the Worker Protection Unit has the option to utilize drones during an inspection process when needed. This new addition will allow inspectors to access remote areas with ease.