NY AG Probing Complaints Of Wage Theft From Undocumented Trump Employees

UNITED STATES - JULY 30: Mayor Michael Bloomberg rubs his temples as he and Donald Trump wait to tee off on the first hole to start the fourth annual Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation Golf Classic at Trump National ... UNITED STATES - JULY 30: Mayor Michael Bloomberg rubs his temples as he and Donald Trump wait to tee off on the first hole to start the fourth annual Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation Golf Classic at Trump National Golf Course. (Photo by Robert Sabo/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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April 30, 2019 7:03 p.m.
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The New York Attorney General’s office is probing allegations of wage theft from undocumented immigrant employees at President Donald Trump’s golf course in Briarcliff Manor, New York, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Investigators in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office have interviewed more nearly 30 former employees of Trump National Golf Club Westchester, the Post reported. The paper said the former employees provided pay stubs and W-2s to the investigators and answered questions “about their salaries, hours, tips and lack of benefits” at Trump Westchester. Some former employees had follow-up interviews scheduled, the Post said.

The office confirmed to the Post that it had received complaints from workers but didn’t comment further. The office didn’t respond to TPM’s request to confirm an investigation.

Former employees told the Post that they were denied pay for hours they worked off-the-clock on orders from their managers, and, in addition, were paid less than they were owed based on what was recorded in the club’s computer system.

“They were focused on the payments,” former Trump Westchester maintenance worker Gabriel Sedano told the Post, referring to prosecutors’ focus. “The days they paid us. The extra hours they didn’t pay us. The tips.”

“I had to punch out and keep working,” dishwasher Juan Pablo Morejon told the Post. “When you left, they paid you eight hours, even if you worked 12 or 13 hours.”

After Morejon quit when Trump managers told him to get a new green card number — he’d been using the same one as his nephew — the club failed to pay him for his last 15 days of work, he told the Post.

Jose Blandon, who worked with his son Wiston at the club, told the Post Trump managers engaged in a practice called “averaging hours,” in which, for example, employees worked 60 hours one week and 20 the next, an average of 40 per week, without getting the required overtime pay for the first week.

“This bothered me a lot,” he told the Post. “I felt this was labor abuse.”

An unnamed former manager at Trump Westchester paraphrased the message management gave undocumented workers to the Post: “You want to be here? Don’t clock in for overtime … Clock out, and work off the clock.”

“There was a conscious effort to pay less wages, because they knew about the lack of documents,” the former manager confirmed. “You know, where are they going to go?”

Current White House social media director Dan Scavino was general manager of Trump Westchester at the time, according to the unnamed manager.

Scavino told the Post its questions were an “attempt to attack the President through me,” and said he would have stopped any violations he knew about.

“To my knowledge, Trump National is in compliance with the relevant state and federal labor laws, and during my employment, which was SIX YEARS ago, I was personally unaware of any violations of those laws,” he said.

The Post also reported that undocumented Westchester employees weren’t offered the same benefits that documented employees were, like health insurance or vacation days.

A Trump organization spokesperson told the Post the former employees’ complaints were “total nonsense” and “nothing more than unsubstantiated allegations from illegal immigrants who unlawfully submitted fake identification in an effort to obtain employment.” The business did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.

This is hardly the first time Trump’s treatment of undocumented workers has come under scrutiny. In December, a lawyer representing undocumented employees at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey golf club said they’d been threatened with deportation.

“We are tired of the abuse, the insults, the way he talks about us when he knows that we are here helping him make money,” one of the lawyer’s clients, Vicky Morales, told The New York Times. “We sweat it out to attend to his every need and have to put up with his humiliation.”

The President’s pride and joy, Trump Tower in Manhattan, was infamously built after undocumented Polish workers who used only minimal safety equipment and worked 12-hour shifts demolished the existing building at the tower’s current address. The Polish workers were paid less than half the going union wage, if they were paid at all, the Times noted in 2017 when the terms of a related settlement were made public.

“We worked in horrid, terrible conditions,” one Polish laborer told the Times in 1998. “We were frightened illegal immigrants and did not know enough about our rights.”

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