FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2019
CONTACT: Nadia Marin-Molina, 516-984-5755
White Plains, New York — Three former employees of TDL Restoration Inc., sued to recover their owed wages and won in federal court. The complaint alleged that TDL Restoration Inc., a related company TDL Management Corp., and the principals of the companies did not pay employees for all of the hours that they worked, that they never paid overtime, that they repeatedly “paid” the employees with checks that bounced, and that they violated other provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law.
“The jury, in this case, found in favor of the Plaintiffs, Jose Bisono, Joaquin Vicente, and Edgar Mendez, on all questions and awarded the maximum damages permissible for violations of Federal and State labor laws. This is a vindication of the workers’ rights and holds their former employer accountable for not paying them their earned wages. Bringing this case was not easy and required tremendous effort from the Plaintiffs, extensive legal work by their attorneys and substantial community support. However, the positive outcome should encourage others who face illegal exploitation to seek justice,” said Robert McCreanor, Legal Director for Worker Justice Center of New York and the lead attorneys on this case.
“This case was not easy. It caused great hardship for all of our families. We were scared, they tried to intimidate us and belittle us but we stood our ground,” said Joaquin Vicente, one of the winning plaintiffs. “We wanted to show other day laborers that they too could take on such a strong company and win. We wanted to highlight the ongoing abuse faced by many other workers who are simply trying to provide for their family.”
“Catholic Charities Community Services firmly supported Jose, Joaquin, and Edgar. Our Day Laborer program organizes and supports workers with earning fair wages and safe working conditions. Catholic Charities will continue to assist all day laborers who, by law, are entitled to their wages for work performed. Contractors and companies that do not pay workers are violating New York labor laws and must be held accountable. Since the inception of our Day Laborer program over 10 years ago, we have helped workers recover stolen wages. To date, this is our first case to go to federal court and the largest financial amount won,” stated Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.
“Between the three of us, we worked thousands of hours and were not paid. We were not paid overtime. When we did get paid, the checks bounced, after over a year of mediations, court dates and finally trial — to win this case is an incredible success. We want to thank our attorneys Robert McCreanor and Maureen Hussein of the Worker Justice Center of New York, Catholic Charities, Alianza Laboral de Westchester/Westchester Labor Alliance and National Day Laborer Organizing Network for their unwavering support,” said Jose Bisono.
Members of the Worker Justice Center, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, Obreros Unidos de Yonkers and their families, Alianza Laboral de Westchester/Westchester Labor Alliance, (CCCS, Community Resource Center, Neighbors Link, United Community Center of Westchester, Don Bosco Workers), and National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) as well as local day laborers and community organizations supported these workers since they began the fight for recouping these wages. They were present in the courtroom all 7 days of the trial to show community support as these day laborers fought back against the fear and intimidation that is used against so many and stand up publicly for their rights in federal court.
“With this win against TDL Restoration, these New York day laborers are sending a resounding message to unscrupulous employers across the country, that they know their rights and that they are willing to stand up and fight back against wage theft and exploitation. NDLON congratulates these brave workers on this impressive victory, the legal team from Workers Justice Center, and the NDLON member organizations that provided essential support, Catholic Charities Obreros Unidos of Yonkers, Community Resource Center, United Community Center, Don Bosco Workers, and Neighbors Link,” acknowledged Nadia Marin, NDLON Executive Director.
“As members of the Westchester Alianza Laboral, we are thrilled for this case to end injustice for the Obreros Unidos-Catholic Charities workers. They are our heroes for not giving up on their right to pay for their work. As an alliance, we will continue to work to eradicate worker exploitation in Westchester County,” celebrated Jirandy Martinez, Executive Director, Community Resource Center
“Wage theft by TDL Restoration not only hurts the individual workers who should have been paid more under federal and state law but also the businesses of law-abiding contractors whose bids on contracts are hired to reflect their higher labor cost. In effect, the people and organizations who hire TDL Restoration are unintentionally rewarding them for breaking the law and cheating their workers,” explained Esmeralda Hoscoy, Regional Director, Catholic Charites Community Services, Westchester. “TDL Restoration has employed dozens of construction workers over the past several years all over Westchester County and New York City, as well as New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Their employees work hard – typically over 8 hours per day, 6 days per week, week after week – and as a result, TDL Restoration and its owner’s profit. But part of this “profit” rightfully belongs to the workers, who have been (and continue to be) illegally underpaid for their labor,” Hoscoy concluded.
Before the trial began on April 30th, several meetings with the three workers had occurred as well as mediation sessions with lawyers for all parties. The original total amount proposed by the workers was $215,000 dollars. At every meeting, the employer’s lawyer offered less money. The final offer was $125,000 dollars to be paid in a span of 5 years. At each step, the Worker Justice Center attorneys consulted with the workers. Ultimately, the workers did not accept the low offer. The workers countered and proposed $100,000 dollars now and $115,000 dollars over the next 6 months. TDL Restoration denied their proposal and the case went to trial.
Catholic Charities works with Obreros Unidos de Yonkers, a group of approximately 500 day-laborers from Yonkers. Together, CC educates workers regarding employment rights and responsibilities to prevent exploitation and workplace abuses. CC also assists in integrating workers into society and provides local resources to assist them in this process. CC does this through: Hosting presentations and training on worker’s rights, safety in the workplace, basics of immigration, and other topics as needed; Issuing membership cards with identifying information; Providing office and meeting space, as well as administrative support for the workers; Assisting in the collection of unpaid wages, access to healthcare services, emergency food, English as a second language programs and computer classes and Facilitating conversations with local business owners, police, elected officials and the community.