A.G. Schneiderman Announces Settlements With Two NYC Moving Companies For Underpaying Workers

Two Bronx-Based Companies To Pay $450K In Restitution And Penalties For Wage Law Violations; AG Sends Letter To 5oo Licensed Moving Companies Across The State Reminding Them Of Legal Obligations

Schneiderman: My Office Is Committed To Enforcing Labor Laws

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced an educational initiative aimed at increasing labor law compliance in the moving industry and settlements with two New York City-based moving companies for failures to pay legal wages to their employees. The companies, Shleppers Holdings, LLC, and iMoveGreen, have agreed to pay nearly $450,000 to settle, with most of that money going to about 200 workers for violation of New York labor law. Beyond the settlements, the office is moving to increase awareness by companies of their obligations under New York’s wage laws.

“Movers do strenuous work and must be paid properly according to the law. With these settlements, my office is making sure that workers are paid the wages they deserve," Attorney General Schneiderman said. “My office is committed to seeing broad-based compliance in the moving industry. In addition to investigating companies that rip off their workers, we are committed to providing information to moving companies and we invite owners and managers to learn about their obligations under New York Labor laws.”

Under Attorney General Schneiderman’s settlement agreements, Shleppers Holdings, LLC, d/b/a Shleppers Moving & Storage, and its owners will pay a total of $350,000 and iMoveGreen will pay $95,000 for law violations resulting in underpayment of workers. In addition as part of its settlement, iMoveGreen has changed its treatment of certain workers, now counting them as employees instead of as independent contractors as was previously the case.

The settlements cover violations going back as far as January 2009. The $95,000 in restitution in the iMoveGreen settlement will go to as many as 100 workers owed wages for that period. Restitution in the amount of $300,000 from Shleppers will go to more than 100 workers and the remaining $50,000 will be used to pay for an independent monitor and claims administrator.

The settlements follow a settlement obtained by the Attorney General’s office in late 2010, in which Flat Rate Movers, a multi-state moving and storage company with headquarters in New York City, paid $1.2 million to resolve an investigation of its wage payment practices.Please click herefor more information on these cases.

In addition to announcing the resolution of these new settlements, the Attorney General's Office is sending letters to the more than 500 moving companies licensed in New York State. The letters advise these employers of their obligations under New York law. Further, the Attorney General has invited the owners of these companies to attend seminars during which OAG staff will address different aspects of the Labor Law as applied to moving companies. These seminars will be held July 31, August 1 and 2 in New York City and will be available by video thereafter in the rest of the State.

Violations found in the course of the investigations into Shleppers, headquartered at 310 Walton Avenue, Bronx, and iMoveGreen, which is located at 370 Concord Avenue in the Bronx, include failure to track employees' work hours, failure to pay workers for all hours worked, failure to pay overtime, unlawful deductions from wages and inappropriately treating employees as independent contractors instead of employees for tax and other purposes.

Under New York Labor Law, most employees must be paid at least time and a half of their regular rate of pay for hours worked above 40 in a single work week.When an employer is covered by the Motor Carrier Exemption to this general rule, as some movers are, the employer still must pay at least one and a half times the minimum wage, currently $7.25 per hour, for hours above 40. In addition, employers may only take properly authorized and qualified deductions from wages, and are required to keep records of the hours worked by employees and to pay employees for all hours worked. Finally, employers must not misclassify employees as "independent contractors" in an attempt to save money on taxes or workers' compensation premiums.

Wascar Santos, a former iMoverGreen worker,said, “There were many times that I returned home disappointed, knowing that after a long day of strenuouslabor I was not beingfairly paid. I thank Attorney General Schneiderman for bringing hope and justice to all of us who want to make a fair wage and a decent leaving.”

Below is a regional breakdown of moving companies to which the Attorney General issendingletters. They are registered with the State Department of Transportation to do business in New York State.

NYC   

188

Long Island 

97

Hudson Valley

80

Finger Lakes

28

Western New York

26

Central New York 

25

Capital District

24

Southern Tier

13

Mohawk Valley

10

North Country

6

There are also 36 out of state moving companies licensed to do business in New York, for a total of 533.

Both the Shleppers case and the iMoveGreen case were handled by law graduate Kevin Lynch, former Assistant Attorney General Karen Yau, under the supervision of Labor Bureau Section Chief Andrew Elmore, Labor Bureau Special Counsel Patricia Kakalec, Labor Bureau Chief Terri Gerstein, Executive Deputy for Social Justice Alvin Bragg and First Deputy Attorney General for Affirmative Litigation Janet Sabel. 

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