At Colorlines, Seth Freed Wessler uncovers illegal employment practices at many fast-food restaurants, and the underpaid workers who suffer the consequences.
The U.S. Department of Labor found a couple years ago that 40 percent of fast food outposts in the country fail to consistently pay their employees a minimum wage or overtime. And a recent study from New York City found that 84 percent of fast food workers complained that their employers regularly force them to work off the books, work overtime without overtime pay or pony up for their own gas for deliveries. In the case of fast food, the whole structure of franchising is set up to throw workers like Roffle under the bus while insulating corporations like Papa John's from the messy exigencies of their labor.
Ways to Steal Your Wages
Here's how Papa John's gets away with taking Roffle's pay. She says she's regularly expected to start her shift before she clocks in, or stay late to clean after she's already clocked out. She talked me through a recent week, recalling the hours she started and stopped and then which hours she actually worked. All together, she says in an average week she works two to four hours without pay. And so Roffle, who makes $7.35 an hour, loses out on nearly $90 a month. In a year, that's more than $1,000, which she says would've been more than enough to get her car fixed.
"The thing is, you know that you should be paid," Roffle said, "but to show that you want to keep your job, that you are a good worker, that you are a team player, you do it."
Read Seth Freed Wessler's entire piece at Colorlines.
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