Ripping Off Workers
Multiple Violations of NYS Wage and Overtime Laws
Between 2008-2011, the NYS Department of Labor found multiple violations of labor laws at Five Star for multiple employees including non-payment of overtime, failure to keep accurate pay records, and unlawful deductions from employees’ paychecks.
The company refused to pay any of the money owed in administrative proceedings, and the state was forced to seek a judgment in court to get workers their back pay.
2014 Federal Class Action Lawsuit against Tristani shell company
In 2014, workers brought a federal class action lawsuit against both Five Star and a second obscure Tristani-owned company called Workforce Cleaning Solutions, LLC which the lawsuit alleges was created for the sole purpose of paying lower workers comp premiums by misclassifying dangerous demolition work as “cleaning.” New York Department of State records show Workforce Cleaning Solutions registered to the same address as the Tristanis’ waste transfer station.
The workers, who made as little as $10 an hour for dangerous demolition work, said the Tristanis refused to pay them required overtime for six-day work weeks averaging 53-hours. They also claimed that the Tristanis failed to pay prevailing wages on governmental demolition projects. The Tristanis recently settled the case for $400,000.
2015 Retaliation Against Workers
In 2015, two Five Star Carting workers testified at a City Council hearing about problems at their company, including poorly maintained trucks, long hours, and low pay. One worker said, “I feel as if I’m a slave.” Five Star Carting immediately fired the two workers, although Nino Tristani claimed not to know what was going on. The company then reversed itself and reinstated the workers after union members and elected officials held a rally at Five Star’s offices.
Profits and Real Estate Deals
During a period when Five Star has faced multiple allegations of wage theft, the Tristanis have ploughed the profits from multiple waste businesses into NYC real estate ventures. In the span of just three days in 2015, Anthony Tristani purchased an East Side apartment building for $19.5M via a LLC of which he and Nino are both members, and sold a commercial property in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for $10 Million.
Like many waste industry executives, the Tristanis choose to live in communities very different from the ones that host their transfer stations and truck yards. Anthony lives in a Bergen County, NJ suburb where the average income is more than double the average income in Bushwick, Brooklyn where the Tristanis operate a dangerous and polluting waste transfer station.