NEW ORLEANS – Two Gulf Coast staffing agencies have agreed to paid 353 workers nearly $516,000 in back wages after U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigators found they classified employees incorrectly as independent contractors and mislabeled wages as per-diem reimbursement for expenses never incurred.
As we close in on election day, one thing seems clear: no matter what their political affiliation, voters want an end to corporations’ manipulations to boost profits and the pay of their top officers at the expense of working people.
In a survey conducted by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), 84% of those surveyed — Democrats and Republicans across age groups — disapproved of corporations misclassifying employees as “independent contractors.” “[P]olling shows that 7 in 10 voters don’t trust employers to treat their employees fairly. A majority of voters believes that working hard isn’t enough anymore, because companies simply aren’t loyal to their employees. The strategy of hiring workers as contractors, even if lawfully done, is still offensive to most of us. By 78 percent to 12 percent, voters feel that workers are better off as direct employees than as independent contractors.”
WJP is working with the La. Workforce Commission to make sure workers and employers understand what it means to be an independent contractor. Most workers are employees and should be treated that way.
Check this list to find out if you should be an employee or independent contractor.
Labor Day: What it Means
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
Our Department of Labor has a lot of interesting information about the origins of Labor Day, its meaning and celebrations, and other information about the history of the labor movement and the protection of American workers’ rights. Check it out while you enjoy the long weekend.
DO YOU HAVE WORK ISSUES ARISING FROM THE LOUISIANA FLOODS IN AUGUST 2016?
UPDATE: La. Workforce Commission has updated information about filing for unemployment benefits http://www.laworks.net
Call (504) 861-5571 to speak to someone at the WJP’s Wage Claim Clinic.
Has your employer failed to pay all or part of your wages? Workers with a wage claim should make an appointment for services at our Wage Claim Clinic. Leave a message on the Clinic’s phone line — (504) 861-5571 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Someone will follow up with you as soon as possible. Please be prepared to answer some questions about your situation. Be prepared with the full name and address of the person who owes you wages. Clinic staff members, law students, and volunteers use this information to help determine how best to handle your claim. The first step will be to help you to draft a demand letter and send it to the employer who owes you wages.
Feel free to pass this information and this website address co-workers, friends and family to learn more about your rights in the workplace!
Employment claims can also be filed with:
The Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division enforces certain wage claims, overtime and minimum wage violations, and prevailing wage claims.Local: (504) 589-6171 (extension 300 for Spanish) OR http://www.dol.gov/whd/
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates workplace discrimination charges, based on things like race, gender, national origin, age, and disability status.Local: (504) 595-2843 04 (800) 669-4000 OR http://www.eeoc.gov/ The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) helps to assure a safe and healthful workplace. Workers are entitled to working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.(225) 298-5458 OR http://www.osha.gov/
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) protects workers from adverse actions taken by their employers for working together with other employees to better their working conditions.Local: (504) 589-6361 OR http://www.nlrb.gov/
The Louisiana Workforce Commission is where to file claims for unemployment or workers compensation at (225) 342-3111 or http://www.laworks.net
For more information on unpaid wages and a sample demand letter, please visit this page created by Southeast Louisiana Legal Services.
On June 27, as its term ended, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the case of Home Care Association of America v. Weil, closing the door on the industry’s and for-profit companies’ last-ditch attempt to prevent home care workers from keeping their newly-won right to the minimum wage and overtime pay. More about the decision is here.
The National Employment Law Project has a good review of the long road to achieving this important victory for some of our lowest-paid, and most vulnerable, workers, most of whom are women of color. Home Care Workers Long March to Justice
Penalties for workplace safety and health violations — investigated and administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — are among the lowest of all federal regulatory agencies. For example, the maximum fine that OSHA can administer, even where a violation causes death, is $7,000. If the death is caused by the employer’s willful conduct, the fine can rise to $70,000. By comparison, the Federal Communications Commission can fine TV or radio stations up to $325,000 for indecent content. The Environmental Protection Agency can impose a $270,000 penalty for violations of the Clean Air Act.
As of July 1, OSHA has announced it will raise its fines for the first time in decades. Maximum OSHA fines will increase by about 80 percent, to approximately $12,000 for a serious violation and $120,000 for a willful violation of the law. Even with this increase, the fines are still low in comparison to other federal agencies. But it is a step in the right direction. Read more here.
Have a question about conditions at work or need to file a complaint about health and safety violations at your workplace? In Louisiana, call (225) 298-5458 or 1-800-321-OSHA.