Trump's golf club reportedly made undocumented employees work overtime for no pay

Undocumented workers at Trump's New York golf club were often told to work off the clock, Washington Post reports

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published May 2, 2019 6:00AM (EDT)

 (Getty/Mike Ehrmann)
(Getty/Mike Ehrmann)

New York State's attorney general is investigating new allegations that at least one of President Donald Trump’s golf clubs hired undocumented immigrants and made some of them work overtime without pay, the Washington Post reports.

New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office has interviewed more than two dozen former employees amid allegations that workers were routinely underpaid at the Trump National Golf Club Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, New York,

Jose Gabriel Juarez, the former head waiter at a club restaurant, told the Post that managers regularly told workers to do “side work” after their shifts were done. Juarez said he was often forced to stay until past midnight even though he wasn’t paid for the extra hours.

“It was that way with all the managers: Many of them told us, ‘Just clock out and then stay and do the side work,’ ” Juarez told the Post. “There was a lot of side work.”

Six other former Trump workers told the outlet they felt “systematically cheated” because they were undocumented immigrants. Some of the workers said they were denied promotions, time off and health insurance even though those benefits were offered to employees with legal status. A former manager described a similar situation.

Two of the workers said they were required to do side work for which they received no pay. Two other workers said they were forced to work 60-hour weeks without receiving any overtime pay.

The Trump Organization denied the allegations but the New York attorney general’s office confirmed its staff are investigating the reports.

Juarez was among roughly 30 former Trump workers in New York who met with the attorney general’s office in February.

Gabriel Sedano, a former longtime maintenance worker at the Westchester club, said that prosecutors were “focused on the payments” in interviews with the workers. “The days they paid us. The extra hours they didn’t pay us. The tips,” he said.

Many of the undocumented workers who met with prosecutors were fired in a series of purges earlier this year.

The Trump Organization insisted that the allegations were “nonsense.”

“This story is total nonsense and nothing more than unsubstantiated allegations from illegal immigrants who unlawfully submitted fake identification in an effort to obtain employment,” company spokeswoman Kimberly Benza told the Post.

A former manager at the Westchester club refuted that claim. He told the Post that undocumented workers were exploited by the club and that “it was clear that supervisors not only knew these workers lacked authentic documents but used that information to meet the company’s cost-cutting goals.”

The former manager said that higher-ups at Trump Tower regularly demanded cuts in overtime costs so the managers pressured undocumented immigrants to work for free.

“You want to be here? Don’t clock in for overtime,” the former manager recalled workers being told. “Clock out, and work off the clock.”

“There was a conscious effort to pay less wages, because they knew about the lack of documents,” he said. “You know, where are they going to go?”

The former manager said that Trump’s social media director, Dan Scavino, was the club’s general manager during a period of time when this was happening. Scavino denied to the Post that he knew of any violations.

“To my knowledge, Trump National is in compliance with the relevant state and federal labor laws, and during my employment, which was SIX YEARS ago, I was personally unaware of any violations of those laws,” he said. “If such violations occurred and I had been aware, I would have immediately addressed it, and stopped them.”

Juarez said that the exploitation of undocumented workers was well known around the club when he and Scavino both worked there six years ago. Over 10 years at the club, Juarez was paid an average of $31,600 before taxes, despite being head waiter and regularly working overtime.

He ultimately quit last spring over concerns that he would be fired because he had false documents.

“They treated us that way” because the workers were undocumented, Juarez told the Post. “They thought, ‘Oh, they’re not going to do anything about it.’ ”

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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