Study results recently released by a group of research organizations generally concluded that employer labor law violations against America’s low-wage workers are systematic, routine, severe and widespread.
The researchers surveyed 4,387 low-wage workers in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City, the three largest U.S. cities. Of the workers surveyed:
• 26 percent reported that their employers had paid them less than the legally-mandated minimum wage in the previous workweek; 60 percent of the same workers reported that their employers had underpaid them by over $1.00 per hour.
• 30 percent of tipped employees in the same sample reported that their employers did not pay them the legally-mandated minimum wage for tipped employees; 12 percent reported that their employers or supervisors had even gone so far as to steal tips from them.
• Over 25 percent had worked overtime in the previous workweek; 76 percent of those workers reported that their employers had not paid them the legally-mandated overtime pay rate. The same 76 percent had worked an average of eleven overtime hours each, for which their employers either underpaid them or didn’t pay them at all.
• 86 percent had worked enough consecutive hours during the previous workweek, to earn at least one legally-mandated meal break under state labor laws; 69 percent of the same workers reported that their employers gave them no meal break at all or shortened, interrupted, or forced them to work through it.
• 20 percent had complained about working conditions to their employers or had attempted to form a union to improve their working conditions; 43 percent of these workers reported that their employers had illegally retaliated against them for same.
Researchers from the Center for Urban Economic Development, the National Employment Law Project, and the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment conducted the study. This a just a summary and there’s much more to it. To read the full report, visit the Web page Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers.
To discover whether or not your employer has violated a labor law and, if so, how you may seek relief, contact the labor department in your work state or consult a lawyer. (Lawyers often win larger rewards for workers than do state labor departments, including reimbursement of legal fees.) Either way, don’t delay for long, as a statute of limitations applies.