States Target Wage Violations in New ‘Sweatshop’ Industries


Across the country, a growing number of states, advocacy groups and individual workers are fighting back against wage abuses in the workplace, reports the Christian Science Monitor. From New York to California, several state attorneys general are targeting violations of state and federal minimum-wage and overtime laws. One reason: State authorities believe the infractions are growing as the economy becomes more service-oriented – and are showing up in new industries.

Today’s sweatshops might be grocery stores, laundries or nursing homes. In New York City, researchers have identified 14 types of businesses–from maintenance contractors to hotels–where minimum-wage and overtime laws have been routinely violated. In Florida, a survey of construction workers found that 27 percent who worked overtime didn’t get paid time-and-a-half for it. And in Fairfax, Va., interviews with day laborers at four sites found that 54 percent were paid less than agreed upon. The minimum wage was set by the federal government in 1968. It’s been updated several times, most recently in 1997, when it was set at $5.15 an hour. Seventeen states have set a higher minimum wage.


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