In the continuing economic malaise, more and lower wage employees are experiencing problems with being properly paid by their employers. Wage theft, as this is commonly known, most often occurs to workers in the low-income service fields such as construction, fast food, home health care, and warehousing. The theft can take the form of denying or stealing tips in restaurants, failing to pay the minimum wage or overtime, as well as making illegal deductions from paychecks for items like nonexistent uniforms. For workers at small “Mom & Pop” firms, the situation often becomes a matter of “he said, she said” as their record keeping may not be on par with larger corporate businesses or the employees may be paid in cash without pay stubs or receipts. In a 2009 survey conducted and reported by Center for Urban Economic Development, the National Employment Law Project, and the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, workers in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City reported underpayment or non-payment of wages as well as a substantial amount of subminimum wages. The survey suggested that, on average, workers lost $50 per week. Last year, Illinois joined a number of other states in strengthening the laws covering employees in these situations. The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, or IWPCA, amendments gave employees more opportunities to pursue employers who haven’t properly paid them. The amendments allowed employees to not only receive the wages they were owed but also accessed a 2% penalty for each month until the wages were paid. Cases are being handled more quickly but can still take months to investigate and resolve. An employee submits a wage theft claim at the Labor Department’s office or in the mail. The employer is notified of the claim and is given 15 days to respond. If there is no reply, the case is assigned to an investigator. If the employer claims they are innocent of the violation a hearing is arranged. In over 60% of the cases, the Labor Department determined that employees had a valid wage theft claim so the department issued letters to the employers demanding payment to be made. Unhappily, not all employers pay the entire amount nor do they pay in a timely manner. It is up to you, as an employee, to know your rights. If you believe you have been treated unfairly by a current or past employer[READ MORE…]
Summer is here and many teens are receiving their first paychecks. As a parent there are a few things that you should be aware of regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which regulates hours and standards for minors. Minors over 15 and under 18 years of age may be employed for unlimited hours in occupations that are not deemed hazardous by the Secretary of Labor such as manufacturing explosives or operating power-driven machinery. The Illinois Child Labor Act regulates the employment of children under 15. During their summer break from school, 14 and 15 year old teens may work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. for up to 48 hours per week. They cannot work in any place that serves liquor, at gas stations, in dry cleaners or at construction sites. They are not allowed to operate amusement park rides or use any power driven machinery. Most jobs are not available for children under the age of 14 but they can find work babysitting, delivering newspapers, caddying at a golf course or working with youth in sports activities. As a parent, you can teach your child good safety practices as well as good work habits. Be proactive and find out what type of training is available from their prospective employer. Help to make your teens’ first summer job a positive experience.
I was on a friend’s boat fishing on Lake Michigan when we were hit by another boat. Only two of the four of us in the boat were wearing life preservers so my friend didn’t want to fill out an accident report even though the other boater was at fault. He and the owner of the other boat exchanged information and agreed to settle the damage privately. All 4 of us got to shore but I have continued to have back pain for the last two weeks. What should I do? First, let’s start out with the facts. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) IDNR reported 103 boating accidents in 2011, resulting in 71 injuries and 25 fatalities. The five most common types of boating accidents are collision with another vessel, collision with a fixed object, flooding, skier mishap and capsizing. Fatalities can often be prevented if personal flotation devices (PFDs) are properly used on board. Illinois law requires that there be one PFD available for each person on a boat or watercraft, and that anyone 12 years old or younger must wear a life jacket on board any watercraft shorter than 26 feet at all times while the boat is on the water. So, as long as there were 4 PFDs on board the boat and all four of you are adults, your friend doesn’t need to be worried about the law, just his own lack of common sense. Whether you are on the highway or on water, the first thing you should always do in the case of an accident is to file an accident report with the appropriate authorities. The Illinois Boat Registration Act of 1959 requires the operator of every vessel to file a report in writing whenever a boating accident results in loss of life, injury to a person or property damage in excess of $2000. While accidents that result in death of or serious injury to any person must be reported to the DNR by the vessel operator within 48 hours of the accident, all other reportable accidents should be reported within five days. The same rules that apply to auto or workplace accidents where you are injured should be followed here also. Go to a doctor to determine the extent of your injuries. Make sure you have a clear diagnosis of issues as well as copies of the doctor’s report and any[READ MORE…]
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