Retaliation for speaking out a temp worker’s consequence, report says – Consumer News

on May19

18 May 2017 | 6:22 pm

Employers often retaliate against workers who complain about pay or working conditions, according to a new report from a coalition of worker advocates.

The report comes at a time when a provision strengthening protections against retaliation for low-wage, temporary workers has been axed from a bill making its way through Springfield. The staffing agencies that initially opposed the bill argued workers are sufficiently covered by existing laws and regulations.

But the report (you can read it below) found about 85 percent of the 246 low-wage Chicago-area workers surveyed experienced at least one violation of laws governing pay, working conditions, job security after an injury or prohibiting discrimination.

The survey was conducted in 2015 by Raise the Floor Alliance, a federation of Chicago-area worker advocacy organizations, and the New York-based National Economic & Social Rights Initiative. The workers in the survey typically are employed by staffing agencies, then farmed out to factories and warehouses.

Fromthearchives:UnpaidwagesagrowingproblemforChicago-areaworkers

Among those workers who tried to address the violation, 58 percent reported some form of retaliation from their employer, the report says. Most frequently, employers took work away. That could take multiple forms: Eight-eight workers reported either having their hours cut, outright firing, receiving lower-paying assignments or being blacklisted for future jobs.

“It’s a standard business practice,” said Brittany Scott, the report’s principal writer. “A lot of what we saw is clearly illegal, so it is just shocking that something so illegal can be so normalized.”

Stephen Dwyer, general counsel for the American Staffing Association in Alexandria, Va., a trade group for temp placement agencies, said in an email that the organization cannot comment on a report it has not seen, but “nonetheless, temporary and contract employees, like all other employees, are fully protected from wage and hour violations, discrimination and retaliation under the law.”

BURDEN OF PROOF

The problem is that existing laws place the burden of proving an employer’s motive on the worker, the report says. “As a result, legitimate claims are routinely denied and retaliation protections are, in many cases, diminished to little more than rhetoric.”

The bill, introduced in January by Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, would have shifted the burden of proving retaliation to the employer. But that provision, along with at least 18 others, were scuttled before the bill passed the Illinois House of Representatives 78-37 in April. The Senate is likely to vote on the bill next week, said Tim Bell, executive director of the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative.

The provisions that survived will prevent staffing agencies from charging workers for screening tests, force them to provide transport away from a job site as well as to it and ensure they provide written health and safety information to workers. Beyond that, temp workers simply don’t have the power to move a stronger bill through the General Assembly, Bell said.

“This is like David and Goliath. David wins sometimes, but not often.”

Challenging the Business of Fear Report by AnnRWeiler on Scribd



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