For Immediate Release:
September 23, 2022
Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Releases Annual Report on the State of Workers' Rights in New York City
NEW YORK, NY
– Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga today announced the release of its annual “The State of Workers’ Rights in New York City” report
. The report outlines DCWP’s work during 2021 to protect New Yorkers who performed essential services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, raise labor standards through new policies, enforce worker protection laws, and educate businesses and workers alike.
"As New York City continues to prioritize an equitable recovery, it’s important to reflect on the accomplishments and challenges of the past year," said DCWP Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga. "Throughout 2021, DCWP went above and beyond to protect workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and raise labor standards for workers across different industries, including food delivery, domestic and fast food workers. I look forward to continuing our ongoing commitment to creating a strong and vibrant city for workers, consumers and businesses."
Key takeaways from the report include:
- DCWP’s ongoing response to COVID-19. In year two of the pandemic, DCWP continued to enforce one of the most important public health policies to fight the spread of COVID-19: paid sick leave, as well as reopening policies.
- DCWP helped workers with return-to-work questions and complaints via the Worker Protection Hotline, connected workers with information and referrals on critical state-level laws such as emergency sick leave, wage and hour rights, and unemployment insurance benefits.
- DCWP partnered with NYC Test & Treat Corps and NYC Health Department to share worker rights resources at testing locations and vaccination sites, targeting education and outreach in 16 communities with high COVID-19 death rates and a high incidence of sick leave complaints, and developed COVID-19 and Paid Sick Leave, a plain language overview of federal, state, and City laws translated into 13 languages.
- DCWP launched a new public awareness campaign to raise awareness of NYC’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law and new rights that took effect in 2021, among them an increase in the minimum amount of leave to 56 hours for many employees and equal protections for domestic workers.
- DCWP continued to participate in a multiagency effort within City government to enforce worker safety and vaccination requirements, prioritizing education and compliance. DCWP participated in approximately 11,000 inspections for health and safety compliance in 2021.
- New polices to strengthen workers’ rights. The need to create and expand upon strong labor protections has only increased during the pandemic, and DCWP played a crucial role in multiple groundbreaking local labor laws.
- The City passed legislation to regulate the online third-party food delivery service industry, giving workers who do restaurant deliveries for an app new and important protections.
- DCWP implemented “Just Cause” legislation under the Fair Workweek Law, which guarantees fast food workers protection from being fired or having their hours reduced without just cause or a bona fide economic reason.
- DCWP worked with other stakeholders to amend NYC’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law to include leave time for workers taking a child to a vaccination appointment.
- Enforcement of NYC’s Worker Protection Laws. In 2021, DCWP secured $9 million in cumulative worker protection restitution and penalties.
- Fair Workweek Law: DCWP secured $622,722—an increase of 63 percent compared to 2020—for fast food workers whose employers violated the law’s scheduling protections.
- Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law: DCWP secured nearly $3.2 million in restitution for over 7,800 workers due to multiple settlements in a large-scale enforcement initiative in the home care industry.
- Freelance Isn’t Free Act: In December, DCWP worked together with the NYC Law Department on a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against L’Officiel USA, the American subsidiary of a French-owned global media company that operates several print and digital magazines, and which was violating its payment commitments to freelancers producing content for the magazine.
- Education and Outreach to Inform and Empower. The ongoing pandemic and amendments to existing laws intensified the need for public education and outreach. Throughout 2021, DCWP engaged workers and employers to empower them with information on their rights and responsibilities.
- DCWP conducted 13 Business Education Days citywide, reaching over 460 businesses with information on the City’s business laws. DCWP also organized 244 events on worker rights.
- DCWP focused on outreach to domestic workers who now get 40 hours of paid safe and sick leave. DCWP conducted 10 events, reaching over 300 domestic workers and employers.
- To educate fast food businesses and workers about new protections against wrongful discharge that took effect July 4, 2021, DCWP organized 21 commercial corridor walks; visited over 344 businesses; and conducted two virtual webinars, one for fast food employers and one for fast food workers.
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, an outreach and education specialist, 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 51,000 businesses in more than 40 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.
Michael Lanza | Sheyla Navarro
Department of Consumer and Worker Protection