Wage theft is all too common—workers toil for less than minimum wage, get bilked out of tips, or are forced to work overtime for no extra pay (or worse). Today the Governor's office announced the results of an unprecedented effort to punish employers who exploit working class New Yorkers: $30.2 million in stolen wages were recovered last year and disbursed to roughly 27,000 workers.

According to a release, the amount was the most ever recovered by the state Department of Labor, and a 35% increase over the amount reclaimed in 2013.

New York City had by far the largest amount of stolen wages of any region in the state ($18.8 million), and 13,921 workers here received an average payout from the DOL of $1,350.48 apiece. On Long Island, $3.5 million in stolen wages were recovered, for an average payout of $1,584.43 to the 2,209 affected employees.

More than 85% of all DOL wage theft investigations are completed within six months, a dramatic increase in speed and efficiency from years past.

“Department of Labor investigators should be commended for working hard to reduce the backlog," says Karen Cacace, the supervising attorney for the Legal Aid Society's employment law unit. "Moving quickly in investigations is key to early resolution of wage theft claims. Employers need to know there will be swift consequences."

Anyone can report wage theft to 311, or by calling the state DOL at 1-888-4-NYSDOL.