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This lawsuit stemmed from Trump's use of unpaid labor to build Trump Tower. The lawsuit went for 18 years without a successful resolution. In 1997, the judge issued an order imposing sanctions on Trump, his co-defendants and their attorneys. The following year, the case was settled and several key documents were sealed. Time Magazine has been leading a lawsuit to have the documents unsealed that appears to be currently under litigation.

Case Summary

United States Southern District of New York


Hardy v Kaszycki & Sons

Date Filed: 8/25/83

Date Terminated: 10/29/98

Cause: Labor Violations



Major Update

In November of 2017, details of the case settlement were unsealed. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/27/nyregion/trump-tower-illegal-immigrant-workers-union-settlement.html

Noteworthy Details

This lawsuit arose because many of the undocumented immigrants who worked on Trump Tower were not paid their wages. "Like many of Donald Trump's real estate megadeals, the Trump Tower wasn't built without controversy. But court documents recently made public give a revealing glimpse into the hardball tactics the Trump Organization used to pave the way for the project. According to those documents, an executive in the Trump Organization used a phony name, the threat of deportation proceedings and a massive lawsuit to force undocumented Polish workers to drop liens they had placed against the high-rise on Fifth Avenue and 56th Street. The workers were trying to get paid after working for $4 an hour, 12 hours a day, seven days a week without overtime or fringe benefits." (Newsday, August 29, 1988)

The lawsuit also alleged that Trump and his contractor had defrauded the pension fund for union workers. "Cash-strapped Donald J. Trump tried to avoid more financial problems Thursday at a civil lawsuit that alleges he defrauded a union pension fund by using undocumented Polish workers to raze a building to make way for the Trump Tower. Trump tried to distance himself from the accusation by saying he did not directly supervise the 1980 project and did not know the contractor had used Polish workers until after the job was done. [...] Trump said he might have been aware that workers had lodged complaints about not being paid, but he placed the blame on the contractor, William Kaszycki, whom he described as "a disaster, to put it mildly," who could not handle the job." (Associated Press, July 12, 1990)

The lawsuit dragged on for nearly twenty years. "Eighteen years ago, Wojciech Kozak helped build Trump Tower, the skyscraper jewel in Donald J. Trump's real-estate empire. Today, Mr. Kozak recalls that time with nightmare memories of backbreaking 12-hour shifts and of being cheated with 200 other undocumented Polish immigrants out of meager wages and fringe benefits. [...] Mr. Kozak, like other laborers on that job, has no hope of collecting about $4,000 in back wages from a contracting company that began the demolition and later became insolvent. But after almost two decades, the demolition workers are still struggling to compel Mr. Trump and his business associates to compensate a union's welfare funds and thus increase pension and medical benefits for some of the Polish workers." (New York Times, June 14, 1998)

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit contended that the Trump Organization assumned supervision of the project in 1980. "According to court records and testimony, the Trump-Equitable joint venture hired Kaszycki and Sons Contractors Inc. at a fee of $775,000 to raze Bonwit Teller's 10-story flagship department store although the contractor had little demolition experience. Demolition Workers Local 95 of the Laborers' International Union of North America had a collective bargaining agreement with the Kaszycki company, of Herkimer, N.Y., requiring it to pay specified wages to union and nonunion workers at the Trump Tower site and to make additional payments for each worker into the local's pension and medical insurance funds. Wendy E. Sloan and Lewis M. Steel, lawyers for current and retired Local 95 members in the suit, assert that William Kaszycki, owner of the contracting company, hired about 200 Polish immigrants who were not Local 95 members and agreed to pay them $4 to $5 an hour on 12-hour shifts seven days a week. The Kaszycki company, the plaintiffs said, violated the union's $11-an-hour minimum wage scale and made payments to the local's welfare funds for only 12 to 15 employees. The contractor also failed to pay the 200 Poles their full wages, causing work stoppages and delays. The plaintiffs contend that Mr. Trump was desperate to meet demolition and construction deadlines and that his company in May 1980 began supervising the demolition, assuming full responsibility for adhering to the union contract and for the payments to the union welfare funds." (New York Times, June 14, 1998)