Thousands of Workers Were Denied NYU’s Protections on Abu Dhabi Project, Probe Finds

One-third of the work force used to build New York University’s campus in Abu Dhabi was not subject to the institution’s enhanced labor protections, an independent investigation has found. But the long-awaited results of the inquiry also state that the college’s commitment to the standards was “real, implemented in good faith, and, to a large measure, effective.”

The report, prepared by the investigative firm Nardello & Company, largely lays the blame on the developer overseeing the project and the contractor it hired for broadly applying an exception to the labor standards to thousands of migrant workers.

In a joint statement, the university and Tamkeen, the United Arab Emirates government body that oversaw the campus’s construction, said workers who were improperly excepted from the standards would be compensated. “That error — for which we take responsibility — was inconsistent with the project’s publicly stated commitment to ensure that all of those working on the construction of the NYUAD Saadiyat Campus would be covered by our standards and compliance-monitoring program,” the statement reads.

The labor abuses were first reported last year by The New York Times, and the issue has been an enduring source of controversy for the giant private university. Last month a faculty critic of the exploitation of migrant workers was barred from entering the U.A.E.

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