Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Monday, March 23, 2009

Solicitor of Labor Designee - M. Patricia Smith

Also overlooked during my Las Vegas stay was the announcement late Thursday of the Obama administration pick for Solicitor of Labor, New York Labor Commissioner Is Picked for Federal Job. M. Patricia Harris, is the current New York State Labor Commissioner.

For a little more background, see a bio for a program sponsored by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Although it's unlikely anyone would be thinking she would be a soft touch for business, but the following story, including a quote from Ms. Smith should belie anyone who did have such a thought:
New York State officials announced on Tuesday that they had shut down the Arthur Avenue Bakery — a Bronx institution celebrated for its cannoli and crusty bread — because of what they called widespread violations of minimum wage, overtime and workers’ compensation laws.

M. Patricia Smith, the state labor commissioner, said that new employees were often forced to work their first week without pay. She said that paychecks often bounced and that some workers complained about not being paid for 5 to 10 weeks.

“This is the first time I remember that we went in with the object of closing a business down,” Ms. Smith said in a telephone interview. “The employer was so abusive that we actually made the determination that it would be better for workers to lose their jobs than to continue working there.
I don't know anything about the merits of that decision, but it is an interesting quote, that I am assuming would be asked about at the time of confirmation hearings.

Update (3/27/09): According to the NYT article, Bronx Bakery Owner Is Charged With Cheating Workers, the owner of the bakery mentioned above has now been arrested. According to the article, he has pled not guilty.


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