The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) has joined workers’ rights advocates in declaring November 17 – 20 the 2011 National Days of Action Against Wage Theft, in recognition of the widespread wage violations that Asian immigrant workers face today.
Workers in low-wage industries in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles lost an estimated $56.4 million each week in 2011 because their employers violated wage and hour laws. Asian immigrant workers suffered the highest rate of overtime violations of any racial group – a staggering 85% — according to a 2008 study. They were also the group most likely to be denied meal breaks and forced to work off the clock.
“Undocumented workers and workers with limited English proficiency are disproportionately affected by wage theft,” said Shirley Lin, a staff attorney at AALDEF, which provides free legal advice to immigrant workers. “Many do not know that U.S. minimum wage, overtime, and other basic protections apply to all workers, regardless of their immigration status.”
What is wage theft?
Some of the most common examples of wage theft occur because workers do not know the laws that most employers in New York and New Jersey must follow. How well do you know your rights?
- Minimum wage. Did you know that most workers in New York and New Jersey must be paid at least $7.25 an hour for the first 40 hours they work in one week?
- Overtime. Did you know that most workers in New York and New Jersey must be paid 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for every hour they work over 40 hours?
- Delayed paycheck. Did you know that all workers have a right to be paid regularly and on time, regardless of economic conditions at their workplace?
- Meal breaks. Did you know that many workers in New York who work more than six consecutive hours must be given at least one meal break?
- Paycheck deductions. Did you know that employers are generally not allowed to deduct damage, loss, or the cost of tools or transportation from workers’ paychecks?
What should you do if your rights as a worker have been violated?
If you have questions about your rights as a worker in New York or New Jersey, you can contact AALDEF, a non-governmental agency, for assistance. Since 1974, AALDEF has worked closely with the Asian immigrant community in New York and New Jersey by providing free legal advice and representing workers in lawsuits for unpaid wages and other wage theft violations. Contact the AALDEF helpline at 888.406.1555. For assistance, please contact 212.966.5932 ex. 220 (NY) or 888.406.1555 (NJ).
For further information, please contact:
Staff Attorney and Skadden Fellow
212.966.5932 ex. 220
212.966.5932 ex. 215