Several employee advocacy groups are reporting more complaints of workers not getting paid for work they have performed. Many of those complaining are undocumented workers who fear being deported. Advocates say they often have to persuade illegal immigrants that wage-and-hour laws cover them, too, and that they have a right to be paid.
The problem seems to be growing. Last year, the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center helped workers collect $200,000. In just the first half of 2009, they had already collected $160,000. The center is currently assisting 50 more workers, such as one man who claims his employer owes him $34,000, including a year’s worth of overtime, for custom stone and masonry work. During the past federal fiscal year, the U.S. Department of Labor collected $57.5 million in back pay for 77,000 workers. That figure was up from $52.7 million the year before.
Note: Employers that attempt to exploit illegal immigrants are playing with fire. Undocumented workers have all the same wage-and-hour protections legal employees do. Employers that knowingly hire illegal workers face additional penalties as well.
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