Wage Theft in Oil, Agriculture, Interns and Freelance Jobs Highlighted

February 23, 2016

There’s been a lot of news about wage theft in the media recently. An article published in Inside Energy discussed the surge in claims by workers involved in the oil industry as the price of oil has dropped. According to their report, the number of lawsuits in Colorado for wage violations in 2015 was nine times the number in 2010. The number in Texas, known for oil and gas, increased nearly ten times.

Inside Energy identified oil and gas companies as among the top violators of wage and hour laws including the failure to pay for overtime. A member of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is quoted in the article as stating that some employees were working so many hours that they were not even making minimum wage.

A similar article on Workday Minnesota detailed the underpayment of wages to farm workers in Minnesota. According to a member of a nonprofit organization in Southern Minnesota, as many as 70 percent of farm workers have experienced wage theft at work.

Workday Minnesota also identified a difference between the FLSA and Minnesota wage law in that Minnesota’s overtime continues to protect agriculture workers receiving an hourly wage even though some are exempt from the FLSA’s overtime provisions set by the U.S. Government.

Capitol Weekly even covered a report by nonprofit news origination FairWarning concerning the payment of approximately $330,000 in back wages by a Silicon Valley venture capital firm for wages to unpaid interns. The Fair Labor Standards Act provides for internships without pay only if the training is similar to an educational setting and their work does not benefit the company.

The Nation also discussed the impact of wage theft on freelancers such as the Freelancers Union, who are supporting the Freelance Isn’t Free Act in the New York City Council. According to a survey of 5,000 freelancers cited in the article, 70 to 80% are were cheated out of some portion of their income and even contractors for large companies with 150 or more employees had trouble collecting pay for their work.

Our employment lawyers have worked on wage theft cases both here in the Philadelphia area and on FLSA lawsuits in various other jurisdictions in the country. If your employer is not paying you properly, please call our attorneys at (215) 545-8800 for a free, confidential initial legal consultation.