Treating pregnant workers right

“Thanks to the work of sponsor Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago), the Illinois House approved House Bill 8, the “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” which ensures that pregnant workers are not forced out of their jobs or denied reasonable job modifications to allow them to continue working. The legislation — which promotes the health and economic security of pregnant women, their babies and their families — is championed by Gov. Pat Quinn and now goes to the Illinois Senate.

“The number of pregnancy discrimination cases filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has increased by 71 percent since 1992, and 40 percent of full-time low-wage workers may not decide when to take breaks… Some employers accommodate employees who are hurt on the job or have physical disabilities, yet won’t make minor modifications in job descriptions or workplace conditions for a pregnant worker.”

Read more here at the Chicago Sun Times. 

Paid Sick Leave Law Takes Effect in New York City

Most companies in New York City now have to provide five paid sick days a year for their workers, which means that workers are protected from losing their jobs, or their paychecks, if they get sick, or have to take care of a sick parent or child.

Under a new law, many employees in New York City will receive paid sick leave for the first time. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Under a new law, many employees in New York City will receive paid sick leave for the first time. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

You can find the article on the new paid sick leave law here.

The Price of Housing in Louisiana

Over a third of Louisiana households rent their residences, and the cost of keeping a roof over their heads contributes to the economic insecurity in the lives of many workers. The latest statistics compiled by the National Low Income Housing Coalition show that more than a quarter of renter households in the state are considered “extremely low income.” In order to afford a two-bedroom apartment, a worker’s family must earn $15.27 per hour — or more than twice the current minimum wage.

http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/SHP-LA.pdf

The First State To Pass A $10.10 Minimum Wage

“Late Wednesday night, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017, passing 87 to 54 in the House and 21 to 14 in the Senate. Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) says he will sign it into law on Thursday.

“That will not only make Connecticut the state with the highest minimum wage, but will also make it the first to pass a wage at the level currently being pushed by President Obama and Congressional Democrats. It will raise pay for 227,000 workers in the state, about 15 percent of its workforce.”

Read the full story here.

Fast Food Workers Arrest Ronald McDonald At Wage Theft Protest

“Last week, multiple class action lawsuits were filed by McDonald’s workers in New York, California, and Michigan alleging wage theft by the multi-billion dollar food service corporation. The claims included being prevented from clocking in at the time of employees’ scheduled shift, no overtime pay, and no compensation for the purchase and maintenance of uniforms. This afternoon, Public Advocate Tish James joined the fray in a demonstration in front of a Herald Square McDonald’s, announcing a plan to introduce an anonymous whistle-blower hotline and expand city authority regarding wage theft violations.

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“The demonstration took place in light of the announcement yesterday that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had settled with the owner of seven McDonald’s franchise locations in New York for $500,000, which will be distributed to more than 1,600 current and former employees. New York has been highly visible in the fight for fast food workers rights, with Schneiderman introducing a Fast Food Worker Complaint Form, high-profile walk-outs and protests, including today’s latest rally.”

Read the full article here.

LOW-WAGE WORKERS ARE FINDING POVERTY HARDER TO ESCAPE

“Climbing above the poverty line has become more daunting in recent years, as the composition of the nation’s low-wage work force has been transformed by the Great Recession, shifting demographics and other factors. More than half of those who make $9 or less an hour are 25 or older, while the proportion who are teenagers has declined to just 17 percent from 28 percent in 2000, after adjusting for inflation, according to Janelle Jones and John Schmitt of the Center for Economic Policy Research.

“Today’s low-wage workers are also more educated, with 41 percent having at least some college, up from 29 percent in 2000. “Minimum-wage and low-wage workers are older and more educated than 10 or 20 years ago, yet they’re making wages below where they were 10 or 20 years ago after inflation,” said Mr. Schmitt, senior economist at the research center. “If you look back several decades, workers near the minimum wage were more likely to be teenagers — that’s the stereotype people had. It’s definitely not accurate anymore.””

Read the full article in the NY Times Business section here.

Closing the Wage Gap is Especially Important for Women of Color in Difficult Times

American women who work full time, year round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. But the wage gap is even larger for many women of color working full time, year round, as African-American women are paid only 62 cents, and Hispanic women only 54 cents, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. 

nwlc fact sheet graph

Read the full fact sheet by the National Women’s Law Center here

Low-wage jobs unexpectedly a way of life for many

The Washington Post reports that “occupations that once helped elevate people from the minimum wage into the middle class have disappeared during the past three recessions dating to 1991. For years, many Americans followed a simple career path: Land an entry-level job. Accept a modest wage. Gain skills. Leave eventually for a better-paying job.” 

But “research shows that occupations that once helped elevate people from the minimum wage into the middle class have disappeared during the past three recessions dating to 1991.

“Last year, 17.4 million Americans between ages 25 and 64 earned less than $10.10 an hour, the minimum wage proposed by President Barack Obama (The current federal minimum is $7.25.) That’s equal to an income of nearly $19,000 for a full-time employee — less than half the median pay of a U.S. worker.”

Read more about these trends here.

Louisiana Workers Testify for a Higher Minimum Wage

Will testimonies of everyday Louisiana workers persuade legislature to raise minimum wage? Reporter Kortlynn Johnson interviews Erika Zucker, WJP Policy Advocate, to find out out how Together Louisiana prepares for the 2014 legislative proposal to raise minimum wage.

Sports Bar Chain Agrees to Pay $6.8 Million for Violating Wage Laws

“A popular chain of sports bars based in Philadelphia has agreed to pay $6.8 million in back wages and damages for improperly taking tips from waiters and bartenders and for violating minimum wage and overtime laws, the Labor Department announced Thursday.

“The department said that Chickie’s & Pete’s, which has nine sports bars in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, illegally underpaid and took a percentage of tips from 1,159 servers.”

Read the full story on the NYTimes website here.

Do you work for tips? Is your employer paying you correctly? If you aren’t sure, visit the Department of Labor website here or call the Workplace Justice Project at 504-861-5571.