A recent case out of Ohio underscores the struggles of many immigrants striving to make a decent wage. In Cincinnati, a lawsuit continues against two veterinarians accused of wage theft involving three undocumented workers. At issue, the right to overtime compensation for workers who claim they were initially paid for several dozens of hours of overtime, only to be required to pay back the “difference” in order to avoid being deported. This case has garnered national attention and focused on the egregious conduct of some employers who take advantage of immigrants who are unaware of their rights pursuant to federal labor law.
Under federal law workers – regardless of immigrations status – are protected as fully as citizens by U.S. labor laws. Thus – the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets forth certain minimum wage and overtime standards applicable to nearly all U.S. employers – covers immigrant workers. It is the responsibility of employers to ensure their employees meet employment eligibility requirements. Once hired, employers are required by law to follow the provisions set forth by the FLSA. As such, any non-exempt workers who work overtime are entitled to be paid at a rate of one and one half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours for any workweek.
Further, retaliation for complaining about violations in any manner, such as threatening deportation, is strictly prohibited.
Recent cases, including a class-action against Wal-Mart, have highlighted many instances of employers taking advantage of employees with little knowledge of employment laws and uncertainty of U.S. laws regarding their immigration status.
For more information, or if you believe you have been denied overtime compensation, contact Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP, a Georgia law firm dedicated to protecting employee’s rights.