National Grid settles for failing to properly pay workers after Superstorm Sandy

The New York Attorney Generalâ??s Office has ordered National Grid to pay almost $5 million to thousands of workers it says were not properly compensated in the months after Superstorm Sandy swept ashore.

The Attorney General's Office found approximately 32,000 cases where National Grid employees were underpaid and given inaccurate wage statements between November 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013.

The electric and gas utility attributes the shortcomings to a glitch in its new computer system, which went live November 5, 2012. The glitch caused a massive disruption to the pay and timekeeping system. Wages were lost, overtime was not paid, and employees received false wage statements, which are all violations of state law.

The Attorney General's Office says the glitch impacted 6,500 hourly employees from Long Island to Syracuse. In some cases, the payments were not received on time. In others, the payments were not received at all.

Employees experienced disruptions in direct bank deposits. Others experienced fallout, defaulting on child support payments and other legal obligations because certain established payroll deductions did not happen. The Attorney General's Office says that in some cases, workers were not able to pay their rent, cover costs of home repairs, and were forced to forego other basic necessities.

This was especially stressful in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which required many of these employees to put in extra hours to restore power to hard hit areas.

"Some of the affected employees in this case reported that they were unable to repair their own homes after the storm because of National Grid's underpayments," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a release. "National Grid's workers will receive some compensation --- and an explanation --- for the financial hardship they endured in the aftermath of the storm."

Four private lawsuits concerning the underpayments were filed in New York State. Funds paid toward settling those suits will be credited toward National Grid's obligations under the Attorney General's settlement.

That settlement requires National Grid to pay $4.8 million to the 6,500 employees. It must also provide a detailed explanation to those employees, summarizing unpaid and underpaid wages, and providing dates and ways payment problems were fixed.

The utility must also give a report to the Attorney General's office explaining what caused the payroll failures, how it tried to fix the problems. The report must also include a summary of the lessons learned, and measures it's taking moving forward in hopes of preventing this from happening again.

In addition to the millions it already owes its employees, National Grid must pay another $750 to every hourly employee who worked for the company between November 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013.

National Grid serves businesses and neighbors living in central, northern, and western parts of New York as well as on Long Island.