Wage violations rampant among low wage workers!

In a study released last week financed by the Ford, Joyce, Haynes and Russell Sage Foundations, low wage workers were found to be the victims of widespread violations of federal minimum wage and overtime laws.

The New York Times reported that the researchers interviewed over 4,000 low wage workers.  The study found widespread wage violations among the population of the workforce.

Overtime violations were especially frequent.  “Over a quarter of our respondents worked more than 40 hours during the previous work week for a single employer and were therefore at risk for an overtime violation. As Table 3.1 indicates, 76 percent of these “at risk” workers were not paid the legally required overtime rate by their employers. The overtime violation rate among all workers in our sample (that is, regardless of whether they worked overtime or not in the previous week) was 19 percent.”

“These practices are not just morally reprehensible, but they’re bad for the economy,” said Annette Bernhardt, an author of the study and policy co-director of the National Employment Law Project. “When unscrupulous employers break the law, they’re robbing families of money to put food on the table, they’re robbing communities of spending power and they’re robbing governments of vital tax revenues.”

One of the most powerful tools against violations like this is the collective action mechanism found in the FLSA which allows groups of employees to pool their resources and sue as a group.  Employers have attacked these lawsuits recently and their attorneys are constantly finding new ways to undermine them.  See my recent post on collective action waivers.

To those of you who represent these workers, keep up the good work.  To those victims of these illegal practices, fight for your rights!

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  1. esjr says:

    staples is one of those companys trying to under mind flsa cases.Just yesterday filed papers trying to decertify class.The case has already went to trail and jury found for workers and yet they continue to pay lawyers instead of their own workers.If this was a criminal trail someone would be in jail.They dont want to pay workers so that they can continue to stuff their pockets.This is ashame,these workers even have to go through this,everyone knows that these companys are cheating workers out of their pay and yet it goes on for years.someone needs to go to jail to make a statement that we wont allow this behavior in this country.

  2. curiuos says:

    An employer in fairfield county,ct was originally found in violation of not paying 59 workers for all hours worked and 1 worker less than minimum wage. They cut a deal with the state wage and hour dept and the findings of the audit including owed wages and penalties were excused.The Ct Wage and Hour Dept agreed to ignore to pay those employees because they asumed none of those employees were aware that they were owed money.(this is what the investigator that did the audit said when asked about the paying of those employees under oath).I contacted GOV RELLs office and she passed me on to the wage and hour dept.I contacted a lot of people,all of which ignored my requests for help.
    So much for the State protecting the employee.

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