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Report Shows Many Low-Wage, New York City Workers Are Cheated of Pay

For many employees who are making only minimum wage, it is a struggle to keep themselves and their families afloat. Now an article in The New York Times has brought to light a startling revelation: that more than half of the low-wage workers in the city are cheated of some of their pay.

According to a report titled, “Working Without Laws: A Survey of Employment and Labor Law Violations in New York City” by the National Employment Law Project, the average worker in a low-wage job in New York City lost $58 a week, more than $3,000 a year, because he or she was not paid minimum wage or overtime, or because of some other violation of labor laws. These types of workers include laundry employees, home health care aides, deliverymen, and grocery baggers, to name a few. The report estimated that more than 315,000 workers were denied some of their deserved pay.

The authors of the report explained, “This report exposes a world of work in which America’s core labor and employment laws are failing to protect significant numbers of workers in the nation’s largest city. These protections – the right to be paid at least the minimum wage, the right to be paid for overtime hours, the right to take meal breaks, access to workers’ compensation when injured and the right to advocate for better working conditions – are being violated at alarming rates in the city’s low-wage labor market.”

The report notes that more than one-fifth of all low-wage workers in the city were paid less than the minimum wage. Failure to pay overtime to employees who worked more than 40 hours a week was even more common.

According to the article, the report also pointed out that the state’s workers’ compensation system was “not functioning as intended.” It noted that only about one-tenth of workers who had been seriously injured and who were surveyed had filed for workers’ compensation. Nearly half of them had been required to keep working despite their injuries.


Unfortunately, illegal wage and hour practices happen here in our own home state of Pennsylvania. With the country in the midst of a recession, hard-working families need to make every penny count. The attorneys at Michael J. O’Connor & Associates are committed to fighting for the rights of working families. Call us at 800-518-4LAW for a free initial consultation and review of your case.