Wage theft – when employers fail to pay workers what they’ve earned – has been in the news lately:
- In a lawsuit that could become a class-action suit, two former Apple store employees allege that the company failed to pay employees for time spent waiting for bag searches – time they say the employer required them to spend at the worksite, but for which they were off the clock and not paid.
- In California, a joint enforcement action by the California Labor Commissioner’s office and CalOSHA (part of the multi-agency Labor Enforcement Task Force) at a Holiday Inn Express construction site has resulted in a lien against the company for $247,681 in worker payments as well as $27,000 in fines for 13 workplace safety violations.
- A New York Times article on the Austin-based Workers Defense Project provided just a few examples of the hundreds of wage-theft complaints the worker center gets each year. The construction boom in Texas has been profitable, but all too often employers fail to pay workers what they’re owed or to compensate them when they’re injured on the job. (Kim Krisberg has also written about the Workers Defense Project here and here.)
As more of the lawsuits, enforcement actions, and worker center campaigns make it into the news, employers who currently steal from workers might think about complying with the law.
In other news:
Dallas Morning News: As a result of Department of Homeland Security budget cuts, funding expires August 31 for a University of Texas at Dallas-run program that offers first responders information on the specific chemical risks they may encounter when responding to an industrial fire.
Washington Post: Observers expect new regulations to come from the Department of Labor now that Thomas Perez has been confirmed as Secretary of Labor.
Occupational Health Watch: The California Department of Public Health’s Occupational Health Branch warns that outdoor workers are at risk of Valley Fever, which is caused when disturbed soil releases fungal spores. The disease, which causes with pneumonia- and flu-like symptoms, can be disabling or fatal, and 1,000 Californians seek hospital care for it each year.
Safety + Health: A study published in the Journal of Safety Research reports that feelings of powerlessness are among the factors that can prevent young workers from speaking up about safety concerns. Supervisors can encourage workers to report unsafe conditions by making it clear that they want to know about hazards in order to correct them.
The Nation’s Health: Health and human rights professionals worldwide are working to document violence against health workers and prevent future attacks. Several attacks on vaccination workers in Pakistan occurred after the world learned about the US CIA’s use of a sham vaccination campaign to disguise intelligence gathering.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: NIOSH is offering free online violence-prevention training for nurses.
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