Media Advisory: Wage Theft Victims Rally in Protest of Stolen Pay

Contact: Ari Weisbard, Deputy Director, Employment Justice Center   aweisbard@dcejc.org, 202-670-1590

Worker Contact: Emma Cleveland, Employment Justice Organizer, Employment Justice Center                                                               emma@dcejc.org, 202-802-1334

On the morning of Friday March 14th, victims of wage theft will hold a rally in front of the Wilson Building. Workers will share their stories of having their wages stolen by their own employers and call for the swift passage of the Wage Theft Prevention Act. Following the rally, workers and advocates will be testifying in support of the bill before the D.C. Council Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs at 9:00 am in room 120, where they will also be available for press interviews.

 

What: Rally and Hearing in support of the Wage Theft Prevention Act

When: March 14, 2014, Rally at 8:30 am, Hearing at 9:00 am

Who: Workers, Allies and supportive Councilmembers

Where: Steps of the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW

As Employment Justice Center worker committee member Eliseo Hernandez explains, “My boss didn’t pay me anything until three weeks after I started working, and even then, they only paid me for one week. That’s why I stopped working six weeks after I started. I was owed more than $2,500.”

A 2009 survey of more than four thousand low-wage workers in American cities found that on average, each low-wage worker lost $51 per week to wage theft, or $2,634 per year. That amounts to 15% of their annual income. For workers who are often living paycheck to paycheck, wage theft can result in incredibly severe consequences, like large fees for missed payments, high-interest loans, and even foreclosures, evictions, and repossessions.

“I feel that with their inability to find a solution to my case, the DC Office of Wage-Hour demonstrated their incompetence in enforcing the laws of Washington, DC. Employers like mine mock the established laws. They did not provide any positive conclusions to my problem, claiming that what was owed to me was too little to be able to punish or fine the person responsible,” said D.C. restaurant worker Jose Ramirez.

The Wage Theft Prevention Act would overhaul wage and hour enforcement in D.C. by creating formal hearings and increased penalties for employers who fail to pay their employees what they promise or what DC law requires. Passing the bill would be a victory both for workers and for honest business owners who are currently at a disadvantage trying to compete with