The District Attorney for Harris County, Texas got involved in a labor dispute when workers were not paid their proper wages by a former employer. Workers rights advocates in the area claim that these actions should send a strong message to companies that think they can skip out on paying their employees properly.
Property owners exploits laborers and refuses to pay them
A man who owns multiple properties failed to pay a day laborer approximately $2,300 that he was owed. The District Attorney filed a misdemeanor charge for theft of services in connection with the incident, where the workers spent twelve hours days laboring for weeks straight without being paid.
A spokesperson for the Faith and Justice Works Center said that Houston has had severe problems with these incidents ever since Hurricane Harvey struck in 2017. Many workers are simply afraid to seek legal help and give up, which also makes it difficult to estimate how widespread these unpaid wage issues are in the city. Day Laborers are especially vulnerable because their work is inconsistent and they may wait on the roadside in certain areas for days without finding a job. Some of the workers do not speak much English and require interpreters to take any kind of action or talk to someone to get help.
The local Workers Defense Project issued a statement that they are already trying to crack down on these practices and alert authorities when necessary. Law enforcement throughout the Houston metro area has also started to notice the problem, and they will take action to find and prosecute those who intend to engage in wage theft.
Many of the affected workers in the area gave similar stories about employers using their labor for a certain period of time, and then simply telling them to go home one day without providing any way to contact them or get paid. Some also reported incidents where they were given bad checks to buy supplies. The head District Attorney for Harris County said she has been working to make sure that contractors cannot rip off their customers, as well as making sure that people who use their labor actually pay them properly.
Getting legal help after a wage dispute
Workers in Texas and every other state should be compensated appropriately. There are labor regulations that prevent employers from keeping improper records, skipping out on paying employees, or avoiding overtime wages. Workplaces and companies that engage in these behaviors can be sued and face additional consequences if their actions are widespread and severe.
Speak with a Houston labor attorney
There are lawyers in your city who are ready to assist with a claim against an employer. To learn more, contact:
440 Louisiana Street, Suite 675, Houston, TX 77002