Department Investigators Uncovered Three Years of Unpaid Wages
To Report Wage Theft Call 833-910-4378
The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) today announced that $271,527 in wages has been returned to a domestic worker after an investigation by NYSDOL’s Division of Labor Standards determined the individual was chronically underpaid over the course of three years. This was one of the largest recoveries in the history of NYSDOL for a single worker.
“Withholding rightfully-earned wages from workers is unacceptable, and won’t be tolerated in New York State,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “I applaud this victim for coming forward and hope her story inspires others to act. It is our mission to safeguard the rights of all workers in New York State. If you feel you are entitled to unpaid wages, please reach out to us so we can help.”
The victim was hired by Habib Tawil and Charles Tawil to serve as a domestic worker and companion for their mother at 372 Avenue U, Brooklyn. Her duties included bathing, changing, and feeding the mother, as well as performing cleaning duties, laundry, and many other household tasks. On average, the victim worked 115 hours per week from 2015 to 2018, and was paid $260 each week. The victim was released from her position when the mother passed away.
The victim detailed her experience, saying “In the end, when the years passed, they no longer brought food, I had to look after her alone and I was often going hungry. I was there all day and all night with her. There was no one going to visit, no nurses, no one came by. And I would let Mr. Habib know, but they wouldn’t come, they wouldn’t visit her.” She went on to explain that she often went months without pay.
Once reported by the victim, the Division of Labor Standards notified the employers several times from 2018 to 2021. There was a dispute among family members about who was responsible for the wages. The executor of the estate said he needed a letter from NYSDOL in order to release the funds, which the agency provided, but still no payment was released to the victim. After several outreach attempts, the Division notified all parties that NYSDOL would issue an Order to Comply. The Estate ultimately released the funds on June 16, 2022, and they have since been distributed to the victim.
NYSDOL also connected the victim with its Division of Immigrant Policies and Affairs (DIPA), who worked with the Consulate in the victim’s home country to fulfill the victim’s request of returning home to her family.
DIPA supports immigrants and helps them integrate into the workforce, while ensuring the services, programs and protections of the Department of Labor are available to all workers – including the large and growing group of people who work in or move to New York from another country. If you are in need of assistance with Immigrant Policies and Affairs or would like to request additional information, call the DIPA hotline at: 877-466-9757 or visit its homepage.
DIPA also coordinates NYSDOL’s anti-human trafficking and victim support efforts. Labor trafficking affects millions around the world, including in the U.S. Both the federal government and the New York State government have passed laws that criminalize human trafficking and provide services for victims. Forced labor includes the following:
- Being told you must work to pay off debt,
- Being promised benefits – such as a green card – that you do not receive,
- Having your ID, passport, or employment contract kept from you by your employer,
- Being threatened physically or with police or immigration action if you do not work,
- Experiencing harm at the hands of an employer.
To report labor trafficking, request certifications for U or T visas, or schedule a Human Trafficking awareness presentation, please call the Division of Immigrant Policies and Affairs at 877-466-9757 or email [email protected].
NYSDOL is committed to helping workers collect wages owed to them, including unpaid wages, withheld wages, illegal deductions, tip appropriation, and more. The Division of Labor Standards also investigates and collects unpaid benefits, such as wage supplements, which includes vacation/holiday pay, paid sick leave, expense reimbursement, and more. For more information, including how to file a claim, visit https://dol.ny.gov/unpaidwithheld-wages-and-wage-supplements.