Report Finds Widespread Violations of Workers’ Rights in BuffaloBack >
April 11, 2018
For Immediate Release
Nicole Hallett, 645-3193, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sam Magavern, 852-4196, email@example.com
Report Finds Widespread Violations of Workers’ Rights in Buffalo
Buffalo -- On April 13, 2018, the Partnership for the Public Good and Open Buffalo released a report revealing widespread violations of wage and safety laws in Buffalo. Nicole Hallett, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law at the University at Buffalo School of Law and the author of the report, spoke on her findings at the Buffalo Poverty Research Workshop, which took place at the downtown Public Library.
In 2017, Professor Hallett, winner of a public research fellowship from Open Buffalo and PPG, conducted a survey of 213 workers in Buffalo to learn more about the challenges they are facing. The survey found that local low-wage workers experience high rates of legal violations. In all, 58.9% of low-wage workers reported at least one wage and hour violation, and 56% reported at least one potential health and safety violation. In particular, among low-wage workers participating in the survey:
- 16% reported making below the applicable federal or state minimum wage;
- 35% reported not being paid overtime in violation of federal or state law;
- 16% reported working off the clock without being paid;
- 27% reported that they had failed to receive their pay on time;
- 24% of low-wage workers making tips reported that their employer had taken some of their tips in violation of federal or state law;
- 33.3% of low-wage workers who reported handling dangerous materials or operating dangerous equipment as part of their jobs reported that their employer did not provide adequate safety or protective gear; and 26.7% reported not being properly trained to avoid accident or injury;
- 21.6% of low-wage workers who complained about their pay or working conditions to their employer reported being retaliated against.
The survey revealed clear differences based on gender, race/ethnicity, and citizenship status. Women, members of racial and ethnic minorities, and non-citizens reported higher violation rates in response to most questions.
The report’s recommendations include:
- The City of Buffalo and Erie County should:
- pass wage theft ordinances that penalizes employers who do not pay their workers.
- pass laws that require employers to provide paid sick leave.
- refrain from doing business with companies that have bad health and safety records.
- The Buffalo Police Department and the Erie County District Attorney’s Office should treat wage theft as a crime.
- Buffalo should raise its living wage rate to $15 per hour.
- Erie County should pass a living wage law, requiring companies that do business with the County to pay a living wage of $15 per hour.
The ninth annual Buffalo Poverty Research Workshop featured new research, promising strategies, and opportunities for collaboration for those concerned with poverty in Buffalo. Free and open to the public, the workshop is designed for local scholars, social service agencies, advocates, and government leaders and staff, among others. The workshop is presented by the Homeless Alliance of WNY, the Partnership for the Public Good, and the Buffalo Commons. It is co-sponsored by University at Buffalo Clinical and Translational Science Institute, University at Buffalo Humanities Institute, and University at Buffalo School of Social Work, and hosted by the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.
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