Important Step for Stopping and Deterring Wage Theft

For Immediate Release

Interfaith Worker Justice
Contact: 

Cynthia Brooke - Communications Director, Interfaith Worker Justice / 773-391-5543 [cell] | cbrooke@iwj.org

Important Step for Stopping and Deterring Wage Theft

Interfaith Worker Justice Applauds Legislative Action

CHICAGO - Interfaith Worker Justice applauds Leading House
Democrats, who today introduced
a critical piece of legislation to ensure that workers do not
lose their wages
while the U.S. Department of Labor investigates wage
theft
by employers who drag the process out. The legislation is a welcome response to a stinging Government
Accountability Office (GAO) investigation
that revealed the federal
government's abysmal failure to enforce the nation's wage and hour laws.

The Wage Theft Prevention Act
(H.R. 3303) is based on a GAO recommendation made in a report released this week. The bill would
ensure that delays in investigating claims of wage theft will not result in a
permanent loss of back pay for workers. The GAO found many investigations of wage
theft were inadequately handled by the Bush administration's Wage and
Hour Division and were dropped because the statute of limitations is too short
and investigations took too long. To ensure that workers do not lose their
hard-earned wages, the bill would freeze the statute of limitations from the
date an employer is informed of an investigation until the agency notifies the
employer that the investigation has concluded.

"Workers deserve to be paid for all the work they do," said Kim Bobo, Executive
Director of the national organization Interfaith
Worker Justice
and the author of the book Wage
Theft in America: Why Millions of Working Americans Are Not Getting
Paid-And What We Can Do About It
.
"This bill is one
important step for stopping and deterring wage theft."

"This legislation is a simple
solution to the very real problem of workers' pay being stolen by
unscrupulous employers," said U.S. Rep.
George Miller
(D-CA), the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.
"Especially in this economy, hard-working Americans shouldn't have to
worry about whether they are being paid properly. This bill will hold those
responsible for stealing workers' wages by helping to ensure that
legitimate complaints can be properly investigated."

An undercover
investigation
by the GAO found that the Wage and Hour Division's
complaint intake, complaint resolution, and investigation processes were
ineffective and discouraged workers from lodging wage theft complaints. In one case, a GAO investigator called
the Department of Labor to report that 14-year old children were operating
dangerous equipment at a meat-processing plant, a clear and heinous violation
of child labor law. The DOL later reported that they had contacted the employer
and resolved the case, even though the company was fictitious.

IWJ, along with its national network of religion-labor groups
and worker centers,
will mobilize extensive grassroots support for the passage of the Wage Theft
Prevention Act, as the organization continues its national campaign to end wage theft.

Interview opportunities:

Kim Bobo – Executive Director, Interfaith Worker Justice / 773-391-8844 [cell] | kbobo@iwj.org

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