DeLauro Introduces Bill to Stop Wage Theft, Boost Workers’ Financial Security

August 7, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC (August 7, 2017) – Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), along with U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Al Franken (D-MN), and Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), introduced the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act to crack down on employers who unfairly withhold wages from their employees. This bill would give workers the right to receive full compensation for all of the work they perform, as well as the right to receive regular paystubs and final paychecks in a timely manner. It would also provide workers with improved tools to recover their stolen wages in court and make assistance available to build community partnerships that enhance the enforcement of and improve compliance with wage and hour laws.

“The biggest economic challenge facing our country is that too many people are in jobs that do not pay them enough to live on. Across the country, some workers are putting in long hours and working for an honest day’s pay, only to have their employers cheat them out of their hard-earned wages. Wage theft is inexcusable and unconscionable, and our federal laws should hold employers who violate their employee’s right accountable,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “The Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act is comprehensive legislation that will strengthen current federal law and empower employees to recover their lost wages. Whether it is compensation for a day’s work, or overtime, employees should be paid what they earn. This legislation not only protects workers, but it will help our economy grow.”

In May, the Economic Policy Institute published a new report finding that employers steal more than an estimated $15 billion from workers each year, with workers in low-wage industries at the greatest risk. A National Employment Law Project 2008 survey of 4,387 low-wage workers in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago found that low-wage workers experienced a range of wage and hour violations, with women, immigrants and minorities being disproportionately affected. Common examples of wage theft include forcing workers to work off the clock, refusing to pay the minimum wage, denying overtime pay to workers even after they work more than 40 hours a week, stealing workers’ tips, or knowingly misclassifying workers to avoid paying fair wages.

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Trump Repeals Regulation Protecting Workers From Wage Theft

The regulation was meant to ensure that shady employers don’t benefit from taxpayer dollars.

 

By Dave Jamieson
POLITICS | 03/27/2017

WASHINGTON – Companies that commit wage theft and put their workers in harm’s way just received a favor from the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump signed a bill Monday repealing a regulation that had encouraged federal contractors to follow labor laws. Under the Obama-era rule, companies with an egregious record of violating wage and safety laws would lose their government contracts if they didn’t come into compliance.

The idea behind the rule was to make sure unscrupulous employers didn’t receive taxpayer dollars. But Republicans in Congress thought the rule was too punitive and unfair to businesses. They used an arcane tool known as the Congressional Review Act in an effort to kill the regulation, which was called the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule.

By approving the legislation sent to him by the Senate, Trump has ensured not only that the regulation will die, but also that no similar regulation can be put forth by the Labor Department again. Trump signed the legislation at a White House ceremony in front of the press.

“When President Trump has a chance to stand with workers, he chooses not to,” Heidi Shierholz, a labor policy expert at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, said in a statement. “By blocking this rule, the president and congressional Republicans will ensure that taxpayers will continue to support contractors with a history of wage theft and health and safety violations.”

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In this economy, Latinos are most frequent victims of wage theft

October 27, 2016, 08:01 am
By Paco Fabián, contributor

Wage theft is epidemic and it hits Latino workers the hardest. A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute found that wage theft across America is costing workers $50 billion per year. Compare that to the robberies, burglaries, larcenies, and motor vehicle thefts in the FBI’s uniform crime report, which cost victims an estimated $14 billion over the same period, and you can see that calling wage theft an epidemic is no exaggeration.

Paying workers below the legal minimum wage, not paying for overtime hours worked, forcing workers to work off-the-clock or, for workers on federal contracts, not paying the proper wage rate for their occupation, are just some of the sleights-of -hand that employers engage in to cheat workers. Although all of these maneuvers are illegal, they are rarely punished.

In a survey conducted of three metropolitan areas with high Latino populations, the largest percentage of workers who suffer minimum wage and overtime law violations are Latinos. And amongst foreign-born Latino workers the problem is even worse.

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Electionomics: Fixing The Sham Of Misclassified Workers

07/27/2016 01:07 pm ET
Julie Gutman Dickinson

What if millions of American workers were being denied health insurance, job security and the most basic legal protections, from overtime pay to workers compensation to the right to join a union? What if tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer revenues – money desperately needed to address everything from crumbling roads to education to health care – were never making it to local, state and federal treasuries? What if thousands of companies were violating the law with impunity?

That is exactly what is happening in the U.S. today, thanks to a rampant practice known as worker misclassification – illegally labeling workers as independent contractors when in fact they are employees under the law. In some cases it’s occurring in plain sight, in others it’s more hidden – but regardless of the circumstances, it is taking an enormous toll on the country.

In a 2015 report, EPI described the advantages to employers of misclassifying workers. “Employers who misclassify avoid paying payroll taxes and workers’ compensation insurance, are not responsible for providing health insurance, and are able to bypass requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act.” If this weren’t enough, the report continues, “misclassified workers are ineligible for unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, minimum wage, and overtime, and are forced to pay the full FICA tax and purchase their own health insurance.”

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