“We all have workplace rights.”
“Todos tenemos derechos en el trabajo.”
That’s the theme of this year’s Labor Rights Week, Aug. 25-29. During this week, the department’s Wage and Hour Division − along with its Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Bureau of International Labor Affairs, other federal agencies and the consulates of several countries − will celebrate the contributions of all workers, regardless of immigration status, through outreach and education events throughout the country.
Since 2004, the Labor Department has joined with foreign embassies and their consulates to reach out to foreign-born, at-risk workers here in the U.S. Workers who are new to this country and speak little or no English may not know the rights and protections they’re afforded under the law. They often work in low-wage sectors of our economy where there’s a higher likelihood of wage and other labor law violations. It’s especially important that we reach these workers and inform them of their rights, such as the right to be paid at least the federal minimum wage as guaranteed by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The department’s Consular Partnership Program primarily consists of agreements with Mexican consulates, but has expanded to include nine additional countries from Latin America and the Philippines. During Labor Rights Week, we’re partnering with those embassies and consulates, local organizations and advocacy groups to reach out to workers and their employers.
Workers can obtain information about their rights and protections along with confidential assistance at Labor Rights Week events, or by calling the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free help line at 1-866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). They can also stop by any one of our more than 200 local offices around the country.
Labor Rights Week is also about reaching out to employers and other stakeholders. We recognize that complying with wage and hour laws can be complicated, and so we want employers to know that we’re available to help. We want to ensure that businesses playing by the rules aren’t hurt by those who break the law at the expense of workers’ wages, health and safety. Employers can reach out to us for compliance assistance at any time.
Our ultimate goal at the Wage and Hour Division is to make sure that all workers in the U.S. receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Achieving that mission is made possible by our partnerships with embassies, their consulates and other stakeholders who help us reach out to workers and their employers. During Labor Rights Week, we focus and act on our combined commitment to protect vulnerable workers, ensuring that they have a voice and that their labor is duly compensated.
Dr. David Weil is administrator of the department’s Wage and Hour Division.