A full day's pay for a full day's work? That doesn't always happen. People get cheated out of their hard earned cash more than you might think.
The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters learned by combing through 15 years of federal data on Connecticut that these cases involve everyone from insurance employees to limo drivers and restaurant workers…and payouts can be substantial, if you know who to call.
Things fell apart quickly for Jon Hawks of Burlington. Fresh out of school he got a job as an intern writing software code with online video company Shoplandia in Stamford this summer.
Hawks explains he got his first paycheck, the second was three weeks late…”…then the third paycheck never came. And they said it was a problem with their investors and they were still tied up on that. Okay, fine, I don't judge, give them the benefit of the doubt. The fourth paycheck didn't come."
Hawks contacted the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters, we called Shoplandia. Hawks got paid more than $3000 a few days later. Shoplandia will not comment.
While we were able to help out Jon Hawks, people should also consider going to the Connecticut or U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hours division. In general, the state deals cases involving companies with annual revenues below $500,000 per year, and the feds handle companies making more than that who do business across state lines.
U.S. Department of Labor Wage & Hour Division District Director David Gerrain explains besides failing to pay employees, other companies don't pay them overtime after 40 hours. “We unfortunately do run into those cases where we do find employers who willfully violating our regulations."
Gerrain says his agency has narrowed its focus to trades where wage abuse is more prevalent: restaurants, construction, and landscaping…”Within the last several years we have been targeting those types of industries where we find a large number of violations particularly to vulnerable workers who are less likely to come to us complain or are more likely to be taken advantage of by an employer."
For example in 2012 the U.S. Department of Labor got a group of four diners in New Haven and Middlesex counties to pay well in excess of $300,000 to kitchen employees for all the hours they logged, including overtime.
The four “Athenian” diners have not had violations since. The owners did not want to comment. The state restaurant association says it works with members constantly “…to ensure they are informed and educated on all laws and regulations…”
In terms of the other industries the U.S. Department of Labor has targeted; the Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association says “…our members try to stay up with all regulations…there's a lot of people that fly under the radar.”
The Connecticut Construction Industries Association has teamed up with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters to combat companies failing to pay wages and overtime, or hiring workers as independent contractors and not paying for health or disability insurance…according to union representative Matt Capece…”There are contractors who are worried about this problem. Because when you have construction companies that are breaking the law, the good guys are competing against them."
The Department of Labor says undocumented workers should not be afraid to reach out to them if they believe they are victims of wage violations. The agency considers all information it receives confidential and does not pass it on to other government branches.