For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Releases Fourth Annual Report on the State of Workers' Rights in New York City
Report Highlights the City’s Vigorous Efforts to Protect Workers and Expand City Workplace Laws During COVID-19 Pandemic
NEW YORK, NY
– Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today announced the release of the fourth annual report of “The State of Workers’ Rights in New York City
.” The report outlines the critical actions DCWP took to protect and strengthen the rights of workers in New York City in the face of a global health pandemic, through enforcement, education, and advocacy.
“Last year, we were suddenly faced with unique challenges and tough situations as COVID-19 hit the city. However, in the midst of this crisis, our City was able to make critical progress in the lives of working New Yorkers,” said DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas. "Through new approaches to outreach education and enforcement, and groundbreaking legislative initiatives, DCWP was not only able to protect the rights of workers during the pandemic, but also expand and strengthen them. I am proud to share our City’s efforts and accomplishments with this report and demonstrate our ongoing commitment to protecting and enhancing the daily economic lives of New Yorkers.”
Key takeaways from the report include:
- DCWP’s quick response to COVID-19. As state and federal policies on paid leave and worker safety shifted abruptly, DCWP moved quickly to inform New Yorkers on new measures.
- DCWP created publications to help workers understand federal, state, and City emergency workplace safety and paid leave requirements. These resources, which were translated to the top ten citywide languages, were posted to DCWP’s online hub and distributed throughout the city.
- DCWP launched a Worker Protection Hotline to answer workers’ health and safety questions and assist them in filing complaints about employers not following reopening requirements. DCWP fielded nearly 10,000 calls and assisted nearly 600 callers in filing COVID-19 worker safety complaints.
- DCWP conducted workplace health and safety inspections and prioritized education to help businesses come into compliance.
- New polices to strengthen workers’ rights. DCWP played a key role in several groundbreaking legislative initiatives in 2020:
- NYC’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law was expanded to reach more workers and align with the new New York State Paid Sick Leave Law. The amendments to the City’s law require businesses with 100 employees or more to provide a minimum of 56 hours of leave and provide domestic workers with the same safe and sick leave protections as other workers, among other changes.
- The City expanded protections for fast food workers to protect them from being fired without "just cause" or for a bona fide economic reason once the law goes into effect later this year.
- Enforcement of NYC’s Worker Protection Laws. Despite the COVID-19 crisis, DCWP continued to enforce the City’s labor laws, investigating and prosecuting a wide range of violations.
- Paid Safe and Sick Leave: DCWP reached settlements in several notable cases, including a $160,000 settlement with the American Airlines contractor Eulen America which covered over 400 workers at JFK Airport, a $25,000 settlement in the City’s first paid safe leave case, and a $3,000 settlement for a domestic worker who was denied sick leave by the employer.
- Fair Workweek: DCWP reached a $150,000 settlement with Kingsbridge Marketplace, a grocery store in the Bronx, and settled several cases with franchises of major fast food brands, including Papa John’s, Burger King, and McDonald’s, delivering nearly $300,000 in relief to fast food workers.
- Freelance Isn’t Free: DCWP helped recover money owed to several freelancers, including a record $55,700 to a photo retoucher from Revlon after more than six months of nonpayment, and $25,000 to a business consultant after more than a year and half of nonpayment.
- Grocery Worker Retention Law: DCWP filed a case against a Key Food in the Bronx for illegally firing essential grocery workers during a pandemic, which was recently settled for $90,000 in lost wages for 19 workers and reinstatement of 13 workers to their former positions.
- Education and Outreach to Inform and Empower. DCWP continued its proactive outreach efforts during the pandemic, which became mostly virtual, and incorporated COVID-related guidance on health and safety and paid leave. In 2020, DCWP:
- Held 199 worker-focused events with state and City elected officials, key worker advocacy groups, consulates, faith-based organizations, and community boards.
- Conducted 33 Business Education Days in partnership with local Business Improvement Districts, visiting over 2,000 city businesses to share information on health and safety requirements and City workplace laws.
- Educated workers and employers about the new amendments to NYC’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law through virtual roundtables with key worker advocacy organizations, Chambers of Commerce, and Business Improvement Districts.
- o Partnered with consulates and community organizations to distribute audio translations of workers’ rights information in five indigenous languages: Garifuna, K’iche, Kichwa, Mixteco, Nahuatl.
Through DCWP, the de Blasio administration continues to be a national leader on municipal workplace rights and protections. DCWP’s Office of Labor Policy & Standards (OLPS) is the largest municipal labor standards office in the country with a robust staff of attorneys, investigators, outreach and education specialists, as well as research and policy analysts. DCWP enforces, implements, and works on the development of a new generation of minimum labor standards for a stronger city, focuses on ensuring all workers can realize these rights, regardless of immigration status, and embraces its mandate to focus on issues affecting immigrants, people of color, women, and other populations that face vulnerabilities in the workplace.
NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCWP licenses more than 59,000 businesses in more than 50 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more. By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCWP protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance. Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCWP empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCWP also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities. For more information about DCWP and its work, call 311 or visit DCWP at nyc.gov/dcwp or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Abigail Lootens | Jade Acosta
Department of Consumer and Worker Protection