There have been around 20,000 complaints lodged against businesses not complying with health and safety standards, according to the Department of Labor, since this pandemic began. But how are these complaints being handled?
According to the Labor Department the complaints they receive are handled mostly by educating businesses about health and safety protocols.
Local leaders like Duchess County Executive Marc Molinaro and Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple are doing the same with complaints their offices receive directly.
“Certainly early on there was a bit of confusion and businesses didn’t necessarily understand the instructions,” Molinaro explained. “So I know building inspectors and local law enforcement communicated that and gave them a reasonable time to comply and in every case they did.”
Molinaro continued, “I just believe that the most effective tool in trying to solve these types of conflicts is through saturating the community with information, regular communication and then collaboration.”
“We've received a lot of complaints,” Sheriff Apple said. “No fines, all warnings of cease and desist.”
Some of these complaints filed with the state are passed along to counties, according to DOL. However, several county leaders are saying they are not receiving all this information, specifically in regards to employers providing personal protective equipment for their employees.
“I am not aware of a broad number of complaints coming to us regarding businesses who may or may not have access or provide PPE,” Molinaro said.
“I think within the next couple weeks some of those complaints might come in because some businesses might be defiant saying they don't have to do this but hopefully not,” Apple explained.
The President of the New York AFL-CIO, says the union has heard reports of some employers not complying with health and safety guidelines.
As the state continues to open slowly back up, Mario Cilento says it is important for businesses to be having these conversations.
“To all employers across the state, unionized or not unionized, bring in your workers, bring in your workforce,” Cilento said. “Talk to them, talk to them about what is necessary to protect those workers first and foremost, but also to protect your customers.”
A Labor Department spokesperson was not able to give any exact instances of penalties or fines being issued for noncompliant businesses beyond the education aspect.
"Protecting New Yorkers' health and safety is our top priority -- and as regions begin the data-driven, phased re-opening process, we will continue to ensure employers are keeping their workers safe,” Deanna Cohen a spokesperson for DOL wrote in a statement.