First, a few thoughts on the New York State Labor Department. I’m just a little confused at the introduction: is it the Board of Labor? the Department of Labor? the Division of Labor Standards? Who is it I call when I’m not getting paid? The People’s Liberation Army? Somebody let me out of this Monty Python sketch, I think the proper name of which is The Life of Brian.
Because such was the case in 2007 after I spent 8 hours doing Powerpoint work for a guy who didn’t seem to have his ducks in a row that night. He indicated that he would make more permanent arrangements with me the next day for payment, but didn’t say exactly what those arrangements were until after I had done the work. (Months later, I found out this individual does that to quite a few people who think he’s going to help them get a break in show business. He even screwed over a photographer I met who volunteered with me in the Obama campaign during primary season in PA. Two years after THAT, I was told he is being investigated and a class action suit is being brought against him by a number of people he’s done this to, and I couldn’t be included because I already had sued privately.)
Information gave me a number in Albany. The woman I spoke to at length on the phone asked first if I had a written contract, if my employer had signed some sort of agreement to pay me. I told her No, he duped me (apparently) into working for free. She said “well then, you’re screwed, there’s nothing we can do for you,” and hung up. It was hard as heck to get ahold of local phone numbers. I ended up calling an office in New York City at one point. In general, I found that a lot of the numbers were disconnected, and when I did get through to someone after being on hold for a long time, they told me I had reached the wrong department. I wonder what the hourly rate is to sit in a chair and tell people they can’t be helped. I talked to some working people I knew who didn’t have written contracts with people they worked for and was told to go to the State’s Attorney’s office in Rochester and file a complaint. The States Attorney told me to go to a private attorney. Months later, after I had sued the guy in Small Claims Court and got awarded a non-representative amount by one of the bubble headed City Court Judges, I was told to try again and I finally found out there was an office I could go to in Rochester.
When I arrived, I found out the office had moved across town. I wondered vaguely if the people there owed someone money or got evicted.
Or maybe a Union boss was out to break someone’s kneecaps and THAT’s why they moved without a forwarding address. I’m saying this because now, four years later, we’ve got a guy, a successful businessman who (gasp of astonishment) actually pays people to work for him (God knows whether they used a written contract or a handshake), and here comes The Board of Labor to save the day (oh excuse me, I seem to have gotten the name wrong–AGAIN)!