Workplace Violations Impact Refugees

Post contributed by George Wright of the Institute for Social and Economic Development

Today’s posting contains two pieces of sobering news – both impacting refugees. A study out today – funded by the Ford, Joyce, Haynes, and Russell Sage Foundation – shows that lowest-wage workers in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago are routinely paid less than minimum wage and often refused overtime pay. The study surveyed 4,387 workers, of whom 39 percent were illegal immigrants, 31 percent were legal immigrants, and 30 percent were native-born Americans.

Among the study’s findings, which are detailed today in the New York Times and on National Public Radio, include: 76 percent being denied overtime; 26 percent being paid less than minimum wage; and that only 8 percent who suffered a serious injury at work filed for workers’ compensation. The study suggests that immigrants are disproportionately affected, as are women and racial minorities.

Reporting violations to authorities does help, as a story in the Greeley Tribune details. The article reports that the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission ruled that a JBS USA meatpacking plant subjected Muslim workers to harassment, a hostile work environment, retaliation, and other forms of discrimination. Religious discrimination is against the law, and the EEOC provides information to assist those who believe they have been discriminated against. Thanks to Tom Giossi at ORR for alerting us to this development.

For more info, visit the Institute for Social and Economic Development online.

2 thoughts on “Workplace Violations Impact Refugees”

  1. Mark Rego-Monteiro

    Really tragic news, but par for the course. American Rights at Work and Jobs for Justice are two organizations that have been active in these areas, as was ACORN before their persecution. The World Social Forum was founded in 2001 in response to related developments in socioeconomic injustice.
    Fortunately, success in resolving these injustices of minimum wage deprivals is only a matter of organization and enterprise. Check out 's Oct.-Nov 2010 issue for accounts of organizing in New York around the creation of employee owned enterprise.
    This kind of exploitation can only continue if large numbers of people are apathetic. I suggest three films: See the film the Corporation for an introduction to the manipulative practices of corporate advertising. See The Take to see how Argentina's workers responded to corruption and widespread bankruptcy. Then see Michael Moore's Capitalism for his insightful links between problems and solutions.

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