Wny Employer Settles Retaliation Suit

Attorney General Spitzer today announced the settlement of a lawsuit against a Western New York corporation that filed a $2 million defamation lawsuit against two employees in retaliation for their wage complaints.

The workers, who performed work on numerous New York City subway construction jobs, complained to the New York City Comptroller's office that they were not paid the proper wages for the work they performed on those public work projects in the city. When Superior Jamestown Corporation filed a defamation suit against the two employees in Chautauqua County Supreme Court, City Comptroller Alan Hevesi then asked the Attorney General to step in to protect the workers from harassment by their employer's legal maneuvers.

Spitzer's lawsuit, filed on August 30, requested that the Supreme Court in Manhattan dismiss Superior's lawsuit as unlawful retaliation against the workers.

"Contractors who perform public work projects are required to pay workers pre-determined rates of wages pursuant to the prevailing wage law," Spitzer said. "My office will continue to vigorously challenge those employers who attempt to avoid state wage law liability by intimidating their employees."

Comptroller Hevesi said: "The conduct of this contractor was outrageous. Not only did the company try to cheat the workers out of their legal wage, but also when two workers filed complaints, it tried to intimidate them into dropping their legitimate claims. I thank Attorney General Spitzer for his prompt response, which sends a clear message to contractors that they should not try to use the legal system to deny workers their rights."

The terms of the settlement require Superior Jamestown Corporation to comply with the State Labor Law provisions barring employers from retaliating against employees who file wage complaints. In addition, the settlement discontinued Superior Jamestown's lawsuit filed in Chautauqua County, barred them from contacting the employees involved in the case, and required the employer to pay the Attorney General's office for the cost of their investigation.

The City Comptroller's investigation, which is still pending, initially determined that Superior did indeed owe approximately $126,000 in underpaid wages on eight projects, and requested that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority withhold this amount from Superior's prime contractor, CAB Associates of Queens.

Superior, located at 55 Jones and Gifford Avenues in Jamestown, employs about 200 individuals, generating nearly $20 million dollars in annual revenues from building and installing prefabricated metal and bullet-proof glass products.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General James W. Versocki and Section Chief Pico Ben-Amotz of the Attorney General's Labor Bureau, which is under the direction of Bureau Chief M. Patricia Smith.