NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A man got into a New York City cab being driven by a coworker recently, and found out he was owed some major cash.
As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, Jose Lopez just so happened to hail and get into a cab being driven by Mody Camara.
“He told me, ‘Oh Jose, that’s you?’ I said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s me – I was long time looking for you guys!’” Camara said.
Lopez and Camara had worked together a decade ago on a city-funded construction project. They were paid just $60 per day.
But according to prevailing wage laws, their employer was required to pay them wages set by the city Comptroller’s office, since they were working on a city project.
The subcontractor, Mascon Restoration, was investigated and it was found that they were cheating the workers out of pay.
Both Lopez sand Camara are immigrants and did not realize they were being taken advantage of.
“They know we’re immigrants and we don’t have our rights, that’s why they do that,” Camara said.
Camara filed a wage settlement in 2012 and used the money to buy his cab.
Lope filed a claim, and along with three other former coworkers, he was presented with a $50,000 check on Thursday from the city’s Comptroller’s office.
“This case still has $300,000 in wages that are owed, and overall, our office is holding $4.2 million for 1,500 workers,” said city Comptroller Scott Stringer. “If you’re working on a city construction site, we want to make sure that you get the money that you’re owed.”
The Comptroller’s office said it has stepped up enforcement, and so far has returned more than $7 million to workers.
So what will Lopez, a father of five, do with the money?
“I’m going to buy my house — my own house,” he said.
Camara even came back and drove Lopez, free of charge, to the Comptroller’s office to get the check. Camara said he did not charge Lopez for the ride.
Stringer said if you think you have been cheated out of wages, to contact his office regardless of immigration status.