Saturday, September 05, 2009

NYT: Low-wage workers often cheated

The New York Times reports about a study showing that low-wage workers in the US are often cheated by employers: they are denied overtime pay and paid less than the minimum wage. The study found that the violates amounted to an average loss of 15% in pay. Additionally, among the 20% of workers who engaged in union organizing activities, 43% said they experienced some form of illegal retaliation like firing or suspension.

You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy labourers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns. You shall pay them their wages daily before sunset, because they are poor and their livelihood depends on them; otherwise they might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt.

Deuteronomy 24:14-15

It's important to note that most employers comply with the law. However, the study reports that some small businesses feel that they are forced to break the law in order to remain competitive. Regarding the passage above, the International Standard Bible's concordance notes that the existence of hired workers in ancient Israel was "precarious", although it was better than being a slave, and notes that protections for their rights had to be implemented in the law.

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