Study Shows that Low Wage Workers are Subject to a Host of Employment and Labor Law Violations

A new study, "Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers," shows that employers routinely violate the employment rights of low wage workers, with frequent violations of the wage and hour laws, workers' compensation laws, and anti-retaliation protections. (The original study is here; a summary of the study is here.) Here are some of the startling findings:

  • 68 percent of the workers interviewed had experienced at least one pay-related violation in the previous work week, including failures to pay earned wages, at least minimum wage, or overtime pay.
  • 26 percent of the workers had been paid less than the minimum wage the week before being surveyed and that one in seven had worked off the clock the previous week.
  • 76 percent of those who had worked overtime the week before were not paid their proper overtime.
  • Of workers who receive tips, 12 percent said their employer had stolen some of the tips.
  • One in five workers reported having lodged a complaint about wages to their employer or trying to form a union in the previous year, and 43 percent of them said they had experienced some form of illegal retaliation, like firing or suspension.
  • Employers pressured workers not to file for workers’ compensation, so that 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.
  • In instances when workers’ compensation should have been used, one third of workers injured on the job paid the bills for treatment out of their own pocket and 22 percent used their health insurance.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance paid medical expenses for only 6 percent of the injured workers surveyed.