Encouraging staff to talk out about unfair labor practices

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) – On this Labor Day holiday, the US Department of Labor is reminding workers of their right to speak up to their employers about unfair or unsafe working conditions.

“All employees should be aware that they have the right to fair pay, they have the right to a safe job – and perhaps most importantly, they have the right to speak up and complain to their employer,” said Adam Welsh, wages and salaries consultant. One-Hour Counselor at the Department of Labor’s Philadelphia Regional Office.

Welsh recalled a recent case where workers at a Lansdowne diner complained and the Department of Labor took the employer to court.

“The restaurant was basically taking tips from its waiters and using it to pay other employees, which is not allowed under the Fair Labor Standards Act. We have recovered over $1 million in arrears of wages and employee damages for these violations,” Welsh told KYW Newsradio.

“[Another case] was a home health care company that simply didn’t pay its workers the one-and-a-half-hour overtime premium required by the Fair Labor Standards Act,” Welsh said. “This is a case we have litigated, brought to trial and recovered over $4.5 million in arrears of wages and employee penalties.”

Welsh said the law is on the side of workers filing a grievance.

“All employees are protected from retaliation from their employer for speaking up, whether it is to complain to the employer or to us. It is unlawful for the employer to take revenge on them,” he said.

“Regardless of their immigration status – whether they are immigrants, non-immigrants, documented or undocumented – they have the right to be paid properly and they have the right to be free from retaliation,” Welsh added. “We will file lawsuits against employers who we find have retaliated against employees for speaking up and exercising their rights. And that’s important because our cases often depend on people working with us.”

Welsh said he encourages employees who believe their rights are being violated to contact the US Department of Labor at 866-4-USA-DOL (866-487-2365) or visit the department’s Labor Rights Week website .

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