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Transnational Worker Rights Clinic Files Lawsuits on Behalf of Austin Low-wage Workers

The Law School’s Transnational Worker Rights Clinic, in cooperation with Austin’s Equal Justice Center, is providing legal representation to twenty Austin-area workers who are filing two separate wage-theft law suits challenging their employers’ failure to pay them the wages they were owed.  The Clinic and Equal Justice Center are assisting the workers with one of the lawsuits, a collective class action asking the courts to let forty additional unpaid workers to join in the lawsuits. The suits were filed on November 18, 2010, a National Day of Action to Stop Wage Theft. The Clinic and Equal Justice Center are among a large number of employment rights groups nationwide taking action on this day to highlight wage theft in the United States.

The two wage theft lawsuits are being filed against Raintree Construction Inc. and Angel Painting Services for unpaid and underpaid work performed in and around Austin. Recent employees of the two companies claim in their lawsuits that they worked long hours (often seventy hours a week or more) without receiving any of the legally mandated overtime pay—and in one case not even minimum wage. But for both groups of workers the final straw occurred when their employers failed to pay them at all for some of their work. The workers estimate these employers, in all, kept well over a hundred thousand dollars earned by their workers.

Lawyers at the Equal Justice Center and Transnational Worker Rights Clinic students have successfully represented many hundreds of low-wage workers in wage theft lawsuits, recovering more than $2.9 million in unpaid wages in the last six years.

 “It has become increasingly common for workers like these to be cheated by employers who exploit the specific vulnerabilities of low-wage workers who often do not know their employment rights or may be reluctant to exercise their rights for fear of losing their employment lifeline in these hard times.” said Bill Beardall, who is director of the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic and executive director of the Equal Justice Center.

Contact: Kirston Fortune, UT Law Communications, 512-471-7330, kfortune@law.utexas.edu

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