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According to a recent study conducted by the National Employment Law Project, wage-and-hour violations are a major problem in corporate America. Already battling a barrage of private lawsuits, employers are bracing for more scrutiny from the Department of Labor over poor pay practices—cheating employees out of their rightful wages. In fact, the Department of Labor recently announced that they are hiring 250 additional investigators to catch wage-and-hour violators.

The recent study surveyed more than 4,000 low-wage earning workers in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago and discovered that “employment and labor laws are regularly and systematically violated.” Particularly, the researchers found that:

· 76% of those who had worked overtime were not paid time-and-a-half for it.

· More than 75% of interviewees earned less than $10 an hour.

· More than 69% of workers who were entitled to a meal break, received none at all, had their break shortened, or were interrupted by their employer.

· Of the tipped workers interviewed in the study, 30% were not paid the minimum wage for tip-workers, and another 12% had their tips stolen by their employer or supervisor.

· 1 in 5 workers reported that they had made a complaint to their employer or attempted to form a union. However, 43% reported having experienced retaliation for doing so—from being fired to being threatened with a pay cut or a call to immigration authorities.

Violations occurred most frequently in apparel and textile manufacturing, personal and repair services, and private households. Furthermore, women were more likely than men to experience minimum wage violations and foreign-born workers were nearly twice as likely to also experience a minimum wage violation. The Department of Labor is troubled by the report’s findings and has agreed to step-up their efforts to stop work-hour violations, especially for the country’s most vulnerable workers.

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