Enforcing your employment rights as an unpaid intern can be a sticky issue. Two unpaid interns who provided their services to Fox Searchlight Pictures during the production of the movie "The Black Swan" have filed a lawsuit against the film company for failing to pay minimum wage and overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The United States Labor Department is undertaking an investigation of some of the country's top home builders. The top companies in home building are being investigated for violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Fair Labor Standards Act governs issues like overtime pay, minimum wage and employing workers under the age of 18.
National and state wage and hour laws are important legal protections to hourly workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the country. Unfortunately, many workers that get paid by the hour do not receive proper compensation. In an effort to remind businesses of their responsibilities to workers, the Obama Administration is stepping up enforcement of federal wage and hour laws. According to the Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, industries like health-care, construction and tourism are especially in the lens of the enforcement effort.
Three berry farms were recently fined under the Fair Labor Standards Act for illegally employing children as young as six years old. Officials with the Labor Department discovered nine children between the ages of 6 to eleven who were working with their parents harvesting berries. The three farms located in Washington state were collectively fined $73,050.
Some state lawmakers across the United States and at least one member of Congress are challenging decades old child labor laws at the state and federal level. State child labor laws have been challenged in states like Maine and Missouri, and one Congressman has questioned the constitutionality of federal child labor laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act. While child labor laws in Wisconsin are not under threat, the recent activity shows a growing trend of hostility toward labor law.
Recently, the United States Labor Department cited 18 blueberry farmers in Michigan for violating child labor law standards under the Fair Labor Standards Act and migrant housing law violations. Nine labor contractors were also cited for similar violations. The farmers and contractors will pay almost $106,000 in back wages and penalties.
According to a recent study conducted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, living wage requirements for businesses that receive government subsidies do not have a detrimental impact on business and job growth. A living wage is a base wage that covers an individual's actual costs of housing, food, clothing and other necessary living expenses. A living wage is not the same term as a minimum wage. The minimum wage is set by federal and state law. A living wage is normally thought of as covering true expenses of living where the legally imposed minimum wage is an absolute minimum an employee can be paid.
The investigation of a New York City car wash for failing to pay minimum wage and overtime wages to its employees is a part of a greater investigation of the car wash industry in New York. The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the New York State Department of Labor. Two years ago the Labor Department conducted a limited investigation to detect the level of violations across the state. The Labor Department investigated 84 car washes and found 78 percent of them had wage and hour law violations.