A roofing company in El Paso has become the first company in the city’s history to be indicted for employee wage theft, according to the Texas Observer. The company failed to pay $2,000 in wages to employees after repairing a roof on a home. The El Paso Wage Theft Task force, created in 2011, assisted the workers and indicted the company successfully with the assistance of local police.
The Workers Defense Project (WDP), a non-profit based in Austin, successfully lobbied in 2011 to make it easier for law enforcement to punish companies that withhold rightful wages from employees. The WDP often advocates on behalf of workers that speak little to no English and may not be aware of their rights.
“It’s huge because we are finally treating the stealing of someone’s wages the same way we treat someone stealing from Target of Albertsons or [any] store,” said attorney Jed Untereker with the Paso del Notre Civil Rights Project, who represented the employee denied wages by the roofing company. “The consequence for an unscrupulous employer is you’re going to be thrown in jail if you don’t pay workers what they are owed.”
It is great that these workers in El Paso and Austin have resources when they are the victims of wage theft. Employers usually deny pay to low-pay workers with little legal recourse at their disposal.
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Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles employment law attorneys