Thursday, September 3, 2009

Low-Wage Workers Are Often Cheated, Study Says

By Steven Greenhouse
Sept 1, 2009

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 study, the most comprehensive examination of wage-law violations in a
decade, also found that 68 percent of the workers interviewed had experienced at
least one pay-related violation in the previous work week. [...]

In surveying 4,387 workers in various low-wage industries, including
apparel manufacturing, child care and discount retailing, the researchers found
that the typical worker had lost $51 the previous week through wage violations,
out of average weekly earnings of $339. That translates into a 15 percent loss
in pay.
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 study found that women were far more likely to suffer minimum wage
violations than men, with the highest prevalence among women who were illegal
immigrants. Among American-born workers, African-Americans had a violation rate
nearly triple that for whites.
“These practices are not just morally
reprehensible, but they’re bad for the economy,” said Annette
, an author of the study and policy co-director of the National
Employment Law Project
. “When unscrupulous employers break the law, they’re
robbing families of money to put food on the table, they’re robbing communities
of spending power and they’re robbing governments of vital tax revenues.”

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