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Study Finds Philadelphia Restaurant Workers Being Treated Unfairly

With unemployment as high as it is, a lot of people are scared to speak up about unfair treatment at work.
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    January 10, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Study finds Philadelphia restaurant workers being treated unfairly

In this economy, many of us are thankful just to have jobs. With unemployment as high as it is, a lot of people are scared to speak up about unfair treatment at work out of fear that they will get fired and be unable to find a new job. Sadly, employers know this, and some use the tough labor market as an excuse to get away with practices that employees would not otherwise stand for.

This is especially true in the restaurant industry. A recent study conducted by the Keystone Research Center and funded by the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Family Fund highlighted some of the labor and employment law issues facing restaurant workers in the Philadelphia area.

The study found that low wages are one of the biggest problems restaurant workers struggle with. Minimum wage for workers who earn tips is a mere $2.83 per hour, and the income stream from tips tends to be so unreliable that restaurant workers are reluctant to take on mortgages or other long-term financial commitments. The researchers found that two-thirds of restaurant workers in Philadelphia do not earn enough income to meet the basic needs of a family of three.

Restaurant workers also lack many of the benefits that employees in other sectors take for granted. Most do not have the opportunity to take paid vacation or sick leave, nor do they have access to employer-sponsored health insurance or retirement plans.

While low wages and paltry benefits are less than desirable, they aren't illegal. However, the study also found that Philadelphia restaurant workers are often asked to tolerate significant labor law violations. Of those surveyed, 40 percent reported that their employers had forced them to work "off the clock" without being paid. Nearly 58 percent reported that they had not been paid overtime despite working more than 40 hours in a week.

Respondents also claimed that discrimination -- particularly bias based on race -- is rampant in the restaurant industry. They complained that white men are often given lucrative front-end jobs as servers and bartenders, while racial minorities are kept behind the scenes working as cooks or dishwashers.

Pennsylvania employment lawsuits

No worker should have to put up with labor law violations just to keep their job. Workers who are being mistreated, discriminated against or denied their wages have a right to hold their employers accountable and demand fair treatment.

It is important to note that workers can take action against their employers without fear of reprisal. Pennsylvania law prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who make good faith claims of labor law violations. Employers that do retaliate -- for example, by firing or demoting the worker -- will be on the hook for significant financial penalties.

If you or a loved one is being treated unfairly at work, don't be afraid to speak up. A Philadelphia employment law attorney can help you understand your options.

Article provided by Jared Jacobson Law, LLC
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