Current and former employees of Flat Rate Movers and Mystique clothing stores received good news yesterday. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced these 400 workers will receive restitution funds for unpaid overtime and minimum wage violations. The 306 current and former employees of Flat Rate Movers, a multistate moving and storage company with headquarters in New York City, are being paid $1.13 million. Approximately 100 employees of Mystique in New York City have also begun receiving restitution as part of a $950,000 settlement.
Schneiderman said in a statement:
My office will vigorously enforce our state’s labor laws and ensure that workers receive the compensation they are legally owed....While my office is pleased to distribute this money to these workers, especially during the holiday season, we know that there are many employers that violate our state’s labor laws and we will continue to seek justice for other workers who are illegally underpaid.
During the attorney general's office investigation of Flat Rate, it was found that the company had failed to pay overtime wages to its movers, even though some worked as many as 75 hours during certain weeks; neglected to keep records of movers' hours worked; and unlawfully deducted pay from wages for items such as parking tickets and damage to moving trucks.
While investigating Mystique clothing stores, the attorney general's office found the "employers failed to pay at least the legal minimum wage to some employees; failed to pay overtime wages to their employees when employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek; and retaliated against certain workers who complained or [were] perceived to have complained about these violations."
“With no raises and little room for growth, we worked under terrible conditions and so much stress that we would all often be angry with each other when, really, we were angry at the fact that we were having our wages stolen. We felt impotent. Not anymore," said Carolina Ferreyra, a former Mystique employee. "[O]ur compensation came in handy for the holidays, but the experience of coming together and standing up for our rights will never be forgotten.”
Read more on these cases from the New York attorney general.