New York Times Post: Low Wage Workers Often Cheated

Workers cheated, pressured to give up compensation for injuries

Low-wage workers are routinely denied proper overtime pay and are often paid less than the minimum wage, according to a new study based on a survey of workers in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The researchers said one of the most surprising findings was how successful low-wage employers were in pressuring workers not to file for workers’ compensation. Only 8 percent of those who suffered serious injuries on the job filed for compensation to pay for medical care and missed days at work stemming from those injuries.

“The conventional wisdom has been that to the extent there were violations, it was confined to a few rogue employers or to especially disadvantaged workers, like undocumented immigrants,” said Nik Theodore, an author of the study and a professor of urban planning and policy at the University of Illinois, Chicago. “What our study shows is that this is a widespread phenomenon across the low-wage labor market in the United States.”

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3 Comments

  1. Peggy said,

    September 7, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I’ve worked salaried jobs that should’ve been hourly solely so that my employer would not have to pay overtime. I didn’t realize that the job should’ve been hourly at the time. I worked way more than 40 hours a week for years on salary. My most recent employer paid hourly and overtime was supposed to be authorized. I know many who worked extra hours without compensation because it wasn’t authorized ahead of time. And these are not illegal immigrants.

  2. Kevin said,

    September 7, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    As a union shop steward I can tell you that management routinely breaks the contract where I work and tries to mistreat workers whenever they can get away with it..

    The labor unions provided families with fair wages and a lifestyle that the world envied. They fought hard to give workers a piece of the pie.

    Things have come full circle and now workers are once again being mistreated with low wages to make a profit. The unions were blamed for being too greedy. Let’s not mention those million and billion dollar salaries that the CEO’s were making.

    Greed is what got us all into this economic mess.

    Greed is why it happened and why workers will always be mistreated.

    Just take a trip back in time to sixty years ago and you can see history starting to repeat itself.

    If we don’t learn from our mistakes, then we will repeat them.

  3. Mark Kaiser said,

    September 7, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    I’ve often said that the only thing worse than unions is no unions. Without
    unions to protect workers right we have to rely on State and or Federal Government regulations. In Virginia, a right to work state, workers have just one right, the right to work, employers have the right to fire at will. The Govenment both state and federal lack the will to make and enforce any worker rights. Too much money going into political coffers from employers.
    I worked for Gloucester County in Virginia for 14 years. I was in-charge of their water treatment plant. I worked 14 years with no violations. I earned over two thousand hours of comp. time and could never take it off. Then one day the County decided to do away with comp. time and give instead administrative time, the difference between the two being that adinistrative
    time does not add up and isn’t recorded. I checked with a lawyer and was told that they couldn’t make my comp. time go away. No, they fired me instead so they wouldn’t have to pay me or let me use the time. I even have a ruling by the unemploryment commission saying the termination was unwarrented. Of course, I was still unemployed and they never paid me for the time. I tried to find a labor lawyer but in Virginia you are more likely to find a needle in a haystack. Even if I found a lawyer, I didn’t have the money to pay legal fees.


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