December 30, 2013
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is promising that his choice to be the city’s next top attorney will help his new administration extend paid sick leave protections to “more people, more quickly.”
Restaurant workers still making less than the minimum wage and unable to safely take a day off of work due to illness, say that the paid sick leave measure that the City Council crafted last spring was just another way for restaurant owners get away without paying their employees fairly.
To help change that, as well as a whole spate of other inequities, de Blasio has tapped Zachary Carter, a former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, to become the city’s next corporation counsel.
“If anyone has worked to end the tale of two cities, both in their professional life and in their personal commitment, that person is Zackary Carter,” de Blasio said over the weekend.
In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Carter to be U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York – the first African-American to hold the post. During his tenure, Carter was involved in the prosecution of police officers in the Abner Louima case. He also helped recover $50 million from insurance underwriters who manipulated claims following the tragic flights of Pan Am 103 and TWA, 800 and was instrumental in helping to convict crime-boss Vincent “The Chin” Gigante.
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio called the office of the corporation counsel the “conscious” of city government. Under Carter, the next mayor said the corporation counsel will be integral to achieving its “broad, progressive agenda” which includes, reforming stop and frisk, protecting hospitals, investing in affordable housing, providing families with child care and expanding sick leave protections.
“Many New Yorkers don’t not know exactly what the corporation counsel does, but I can tell you it is one of the most central roles in government,” Mayor-elect de Blasio said. “It’s one of the roles of government that touches literally every part of our government, and therefore, the lives of every New Yorker.”
Rahul Saksena policy director for the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, is optimistic about the mayor-elect's choice for the city’s top lawyer, as well as Carter’s ability to help close loopholes in current sick leave legislation that still fails too many hardworking men and women.
“We are looking forward to working with the new mayor to expand the paid sick days law to cover all workers and to eliminate the "shift swap" provision that denies restaurant workers and other shift workers the right to a paid sick day if they pick up an extra shift,” Saksena said.
Diana Robinson of the Food Chain Workers Alliance said, “For us, the most important thing is to hold people accountable for what they are saying.”
Carter is presently a partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP, as well as chairman of Hale House in Harlem. He also chairs the New York City Mayor’s Committee on the Judiciary, and is affiliated with both the New York University School of Law and the John Jay School of Criminal Justice Foundation.
“Throughout my career in public service and private practice, I’ve used the law to level the playing field for those seeking equal access to justice and opportunity,” Carter said. “We fail as a society if we do not meet the needs of the least advantaged among us.”