Former workers of a dry cleaners in Chicago's South Loop filed a federal lawsuit against the company Monday morning, alleging that they were asked to complete more work than was possible, forced to work overtime without proper compensation and experienced unfair retaliation when they complained.
"These are pretty straightforward violations of the law. You have to pay your workers for every hour they work," said Sean Morales-Doyle, the lawyer representing the three former workers.
Hortensia Castaneda, Naivi Cobos and Ana Rodriguez filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court claiming CD One Price Cleaners unlawfully retaliated against its workers and violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Illinois Minimum Wage Law and the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act.
The three women worked at the CD One Price Cleaners, at 2200 S. Michigan Ave. Their lawsuit alleges that they were required to do more work than was feasible during their shifts, such as ironing 200 garments per hour, and were also responsible for making hangers for those garments at the same time.
The "widespread" problem of wage theft in America might be costing U.S. workers more than $50 billion annually, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
EPI researchers came to the $50 billion estimate based on the findings of a separate, 2008 survey of front-line workers in low-wage industries in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City. In the three major cities, workers in low-wage industries experienced close to $3 billion in total annual wage theft, which includes paying employees less than the minimum wage and failing to pay for overtime.
"Survey evidence suggests that wage theft is widespread and costs workers billions of dollars a year, a transfer from low-income employees to business owners that worsens income inequality, hurts workers and their families, and damages the sense of fairness and justice that a democracy needs to survive," the EPI report states. "If these findings in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are generalizable to the rest of the U.S. low-wage workforce of 30 million, wage theft is costing workers more than $50 billion a year."
Meanwhile, no Republican Congressmen from Illinois earned a grade higher than a 'D' on the center's 2013 Poverty Scorecard, which looked at the voting record of every U.S. senator and representative on poverty-related issues during the last calendar year. The scores were tabulated based on 18 votes taken in the House and Senate on legislation covering a variety of subject areas including budget and tax, food and nutrition, health care, immigrants, cash assistance, domestic violence, education and the workforce, to name a few.
Opponents of the bill, which has 168 Republican cosponsors, say it is an empty promise that would do more harm than good for working families.
very fact that this is entitled the Working Families Flexibility Act is
a joke,” U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, a Democrat from Maryland, said on a
conference call with reporters Monday. “It’s a lot of flexibility for
employers and zero flexibility for working families. In fact, you could
call it the ‘working families to death act,’ because that’s what would