A man named Veniamin Gonikman, who is 55 years old, has been captured and detained on charges that include human trafficking, forced labor, alien smuggling, money laundering, extortion and conspiracy was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport.  US immigration Officials hold that his company helped to traffick Eastern European women in the U.S.  Gonikman is considered to be a top fugitive wanted by U.S. immigration officials.  The company, known as Beauty Search Inc., was used to exploit and abuse women by forcing them, through threats, coercion, and isolation, to work as exotic dancers.  The women worked in strip clubs in Detroit, where they were forced to work 12-hour days, surrendering all of their earnings to Gonikman.  He is suspected of extorting more than $1 million from the victims but fled the United States before being formally charged.  Authorities first learned of his crimes in 2005 when a woman who worked for him at a Detroit strip club escaped and contacted local law enforcement.   The woman, who was identified as “Katya,” said she gave about $3,000 to $4,000 every week to Gonikman and his associates.  If convicted, Gonikman faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison, as well as potential fines and restitution.  Full Article

Forced labor is against the law in the United States.  According to the Department of Labor, it uses a variety of remedies to enforce compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) requirements. When Wage and Hour Division investigators find violations, they recommend changes to bring the employer into compliance and request the payment of any back wages that are due to employees. Willful violators may be prosecuted criminally and fined up to $10,000.  A second conviction may result in imprisonment. In addition, employers may be subject to a civil money penalty of $50,000 for each violation occurring after May 21, 2008 that causes the death or serious injury of an employee. When a civil money penalty is issued, the employer has the right to file an exception to the determination within 15 days of receipt of the notice. Once filed, it is then referred to an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing and determination. If an exception is not filed, the penalty becomes final. The Department of Labor may also bring suit for back pay and an equal amount in liquidated damages, and it may obtain injunctions to restrain persons from violating the Act.  Read More.

Leeds Morelli & Brown, PC is a respected employment and labor law firm throughout Long Island, the New York Metropolitan area. Leeds Morelli & Brown, PC lawyers have experience handling overtime claims and wage and hour law violations, including violations resulting from the improper classification of employees as salaried, exempt employees based on salary. If you or someone you know is not being fully compensated for all the time you work, or your employer has improperly calculated your hours worked, then you may be entitled to overtime and additional compensation. For more information, contact Leeds Morelli & Brown, PC at 1-800-585-4658 for a free consultation.