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Worker Rights

New report: Fighting wage theft in America

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Fighting wage theftA report released by the National Employment Law Project and its partners in the Just Pay Working Group, of which NCL is an organizational endorser, outlines how the Obama administration can combat the epidemic of illegal pay practices that is exploiting gaps in workplace enforcement and  hurting millions of workers, their families and their communities.

The paper, “Just Pay: Improving Wage and Hour Enforcement at the United States Department of Labor,” represents the year-long effort of dozens of worker advocates, academics, private lawyers, labor unions and state officials to devise concrete reform proposals to help the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division enforce and strengthen the laws that govern the American workplace.

“Today’s Labor Department has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernize the way it enforces employment laws – laws that have been increasingly broken and eroded in recent years. Industries and employers have made a science out of flouting workplace laws and cheating millions of workers out of pay,” said NELP Executive Director Christine Owens.

“We hope this report can help the government maximize the impact of investigations, strengthen the dialogue with workers, and promote communication with stakeholders and businesses already doing the right thing. Secretary of Labor Solis has made key initial steps to curb these trends, but there is a long-overdue need to end illegal practices that are hurting workers, businesses and our economy,” said NELP Legal Co-Director and report author Catherine Ruckelshaus.

The paper follows several reports about the severity of workplace violations and the inadequacies of enforcement. Last fall, a groundbreaking study of low-wage industries in the three largest U.S. cities, Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers, revealed that 26 percent of surveyed workers were paid less than the minimum wage and 76 percent were not properly paid for overtime. The average worker lost over $2,600 in annual income as a result of the violations. 

The full paper is available at the National Employment Law Project's Web site.


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