State and local law enforcers stand up to protect workers: misclassification of workers as “a mode of deception”

Series: Enforcer of the New Labor Law

State attorneys, district attorneys, and cities are playing an increasingly important role in protecting workers’ rights. This new series by Terri Gerstein briefly introduces the enforcement and other actions taken by these emerging labor law enforcement officers at the state and local levels to protect workers’ rights. Gerstein is an EPI senior researcher and the state and local law enforcement program director of the Harvard Labor and Work Life Program. He The growing impact is recorded These new law enforcers.

Recent cases filed by state and local law enforcement officials include a series of violations: construction companies use a “deception model” to misclassify workers and low pay; Amazon’s unsafe working conditions; failure to provide paid sick leave; and employer abuse of internships The long-term problem of being born without paying for their work.

The following is a snapshot of some enforcement actions across the country:

DC and the Virginia Attorney General sued and prosecuted drywall contractors who misclassified workers: Washington, DC Attorney General’s Office October 18 Prosecute A drywall construction contractor, two general contractors, and four subcontractors misclassified and underpaid workers in projects such as the Georgetown University dormitory and the academic building of George Washington University. The unusual thing about this case is that the AG not only focuses on one contractor, but also moves up and down the contractor “chain”.Washington, DC Attorney General Karl Racine stated in a statement, “Since 2018, these construction companies have adopted a deception model, defrauding their employees’ wages from their hard-earned wages and violating their rights. These workers have to raise children, support their families, and pay the bills, and they deserve the wages and benefits they deserve.” At the same time, the newly established Worker Protection Department of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office announced it on October 6. The first criminal labor case, Involving subcontractors who allegedly misclassified the workers who installed gypsum board during the construction of the state assembly building.

The attorneys general of Minneapolis, Seattle, and New York State enforce paid sick leave laws: Although there is no national paid sick leave law, workers in many parts of the country do have this right due to state and local regulations. However, for many workers, especially low-wage workers, these rights are only theoretical unless they are effectively enforced. This is why state and local paid sick leave enforcement is so important.In Minneapolis, two dozen employees of Jimmy John’s franchise were 17,000 USD paid After the city’s labor standards enforcement department intervened, in accordance with the city’s paid sick leave law, wages and fines were owed in September. The agency found that workers at the location could barely enjoy paid sick leave.Seattle Labor Standards Office announced on September 15 back to normal For paid sick leave and other violations, including non-payment of all working hours, payment of minimum wage, and unauthorized deduction of training and other expenses from workers’ wages, more than $290,000 was paid from a cleaning company.The New York Attorney General’s Office announced on September 22 Recovered 400,000 USD From an industrial laundromat on Long Island, the laundromat illegally fired 7 workers and refused to provide paid sick leave to others; this settlement It also includes the reinstatement of five workers who wish to return to the company.

The New York Attorney General and Seattle protect workers’ rights during the COVID pandemic: Earlier this year, the New York Attorney General Suing Amazon Hearing COVID workplace safety issues in Staten Island warehouses in state court. A few days ago, Amazon has filed a lawsuit against the New York Stock Company in federal court in an attempt to seize the opportunity of the state lawsuit. In October, the New York AG obtained favorable rulings in both cases: the state court Refused Amazon tried to get AG’s case dismissed, federal court Dismissed Amazon’s lawsuit Against New York.At the same time, the Seattle Labor Standards Office back to normal Approximately 100 workers in a wine and liquor store who fail to pay epidemic-related hazard pay as required by the New York City grocery store employee hazard pay regulations will receive more than $330,000 in compensation.

Illinois uses temporary agencies to combat racial discrimination. Illinois Attorney General October 14 Sign consent order Set up temporary workers together with temporary labor agencies and meat processing plants.this Complaint The agency and the factory engaged in widespread racial discrimination, resulting in hundreds of black workers and job applicants being denied work. The AG’s settlement includes the company’s payment of $450,000 and injunctive relief requiring the company to work hard to increase the number of black workers assigned to the factory.

Massachusetts owes $400,000 to the interns. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office announced on September 16, that Issue a citation, Found that the Boston Recording Studio owed 400,000 U.S. dollars for not paying the interns.Massachusetts has rule Regarding the limited circumstances in which interns can be unpaid; yes Federal rules This too. In this case, students “mainly perform administrative, promotional, and cleaning duties that are usually performed by paid employees.”

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