Industry  ·  Legal

Queens Condo to Pay $119K for Underpaying Workers’ Wages

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A Queens condominium with a coveted 421a state tax abatement didn’t hold up its end of the deal, Comptroller Brad Lander said.

The comptroller’s office reached a $119,000 settlement last month with the board of The Jackson, a 56-unit condominium at 11-51 47th Avenue in Long Island City, Queens, and its property manager, Choice New York Management, for unintentionally skimping on the building staff’s wages, Lander announced Thursday.

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State tax law requires owners to pay workers a prevailing wage — set annually by the comptroller — to reap the benefits of the 421a tax break, which lawmakers allowed to expire in 2022. But Lander said The Jackson dropped the ball. 

From October 2017 until December 2019, six employees Choice New York hired to clean and maintain the 11-story condominium missed out on $87,676 worth of wages and benefits, according to the settlement signed March 14.

Choice New York and the condo board agreed to pay all of that back to the comptroller’s office, plus 10 percent annual interest amounting to $32,330. 

A spokesperson for Choice New York said in a statement that the firm “has a long and proud history of paying prevailing wages, relevant taxes, and the ever-changing fees required to do business and provide essential services across New York.”

The condo’s board of directors could not be reached for comment.

There was no willful intent behind the violations, according to the settlement. In cases where owners intentionally underpay their staff or falsify records in order to do so, city rules call for more severe consequences, like revoking the property’s 421a benefits.

Claudia Henriquez, who heads the workers’ rights team at the comptroller’s labor law bureau, said in a statement that the city’s chief financial officer will see to it that the building staff ultimately receive the settlement money, as required by law.

“This disregard for the law will not be tolerated, and this settlement serves as a warning to all companies that they must follow the law when it comes to fair compensation,” Lander said in a statement.

The comptroller’s office has been on a kick enforcing prevailing wage rules in the five boroughs. Lander has announced at least five other settlements against employers since he took office in 2022, and his office sued BLDG Management in January for failing to pay $32 million in construction wages required by 421a.

Abigail Nehring can be reached at anehring@commercialobserver.com.