PA must address epidemic of wage theft and workplace exploitation by modernizing wage laws

Pennsylvania’s wage laws have not been updated in decades. Meanwhile workplace practices have changed, with more subcontracting of work and more misclassification of workers as “independent contractors.” And the wage theft epidemic rages on. The PA Department of Labor and Industry (PALI) can and must issue regulations interpreting our existing laws to address the realities…

Gig Workers’ & Contractors’ Rights and COVID-19

Información en Español Printable flyer Great news! A new unemployment benefit called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (“PUA”) is available to workers who are not eligible for regular Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation (UC) – including gig workers, freelancers, independent contractors, employees of religious institutions, and self-employed individuals. You may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) if your…

IMPACT: Breaking Down Employment Barriers

When he was a teenager, Malik, now 25, was mistakenly arrested and erroneously charged in five different cases for a string of robberies. The District Attorney’s office withdrew all of the charges against him once they realized the wrong person had been arrested. Even though Malik was not involved in the incidents in any way, the five cases-each with many serious charges-remained on his record. Malik’s record painted a picture of a career criminal, and he struggled to find work for several years. He was rejected from employment at hotels, airports, and construction jobs. When Malik came to Community Legal Services for help, his attorney was able to quickly file petitions to expunge the withdrawn charges. Within a matter of months, Malik had a clean record and was able to find a steady job at a warehouse.

IMPACT: Getting Paid For His Work

Nathaneal Rodriquez, a restaurant worker and aspiring musician, always had a passion for food. “I grew up in a household where we were all cooking together,” the 33-year-old says. He honed his cooking skills by working in food services during his time in the Marines. When Nathaneal came back to Philadelphia, he worked diligently at several restaurants in the city, all under the same owner.

IMPACT: Protecting Restaurant Workers

CLS’ Employment Unit has represented hundreds of restaurant workers over the years, recovering stolen wages and enforcing labor laws. The vast majority of our clients facing exploitation in the restaurant business have been undocumented immigrant workers, although our clients fit many other demographic profiles.Wage theft is a common practice by employers looking to cut costs in this low regulation, low union density industry.  We have helped clients with a wide variety of issues, including people who were not paid their last few paychecks, were denied overtime despite working more than 40 hours in a week, had their tips stolen by their employers, had improper deductions from their paychecks, had to pay for dine-and-dash customers, suffered discrimination, and were injured on the job but not given proper medical attention.