BY LUIS GRONDA
Airport employees that are working on minimum wage will finally get some well-earned money.
Attendants working at both John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia Airports will receive money they are owed, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
The Attorney General’s office reached a $20,000 settlement with AirServ Corporation, an airline industry contractor that employs workers at JFK and LGA, after the company underpaid about 300 wheelchair attendants that earned the minimum wage.
The company did not give the workers a higher salary after New York State raised its minimum wage from $7.25 to $8 an hour. Instead of giving them more money, according to the Attorney General, they classified the workers as tipped employees and failed to follow the State’s requirements for a lower tipped wage.
“Minimum-wage employees must be paid a legal wage and not a lower tipped wage unless their employer has complied with all the legal requirements for taking a tip credit,” Schneiderman said. “These New Yorkers, who struggle to survive, must not be shortchanged by their own employers.”
The $20,000 settlement will mostly go towards paying the workers the money they are owed, $16,000 in total, according to Schneiderman’s office. AirServ must also pay New York State $4,000 as per their agreement with the Attorney General.
The assistants were underpaid from Dec. 31 of last year until the end of March this year. The day before the higher minimum wage was to take effect, the company announced a change in policy that designated them as tipped employees who were not eligible for the $8-per-hour wage.
According to the Attorney General’s release, while State law does allow tipped employers to be paid lower than the State minimum wage, it can only do so if the tips that employees get reach a threshold, depending on their line of work. For wheelchair attendants, it is $1.20 per hour, which almost all of its employees did not reach.
A spokesperson from Air Serv did not respond to requests for comment on the agreement by press time.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.