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Protecting Vulnerable Employees

It is routine for companies to hire contractors to perform janitorial work. Those companies, or the companies they in turn subcontract to, are frequently the sort of "fly by night" firms that may disappear quickly without paying all wages owed. Workers often have no one left to sue, and the State Government labor departments have no power to help.

In California, the Legislature passed a law holding that companies where the work is actually performed, in this case, The Cheesecake Factory, liable for damages for breach of contract to if the subcontractor doesn't pay. California also has mandatory break laws for workers.

Michigan and Ohio do not protect their low wage workers. There are no mandatory breaks for adult employees, and workers do not have a claim against the company that benefits from their labor when the actual employer goes out of business. When so many janitorial workers used to be in labor unions, the unions bargained for paid break times, and the companies they negotiated with were the place where the work was performed. However, with so few service workers in labor unions, the states must follow California's lead to enact laws to protect its most vulnerable employees.

Read the NY Times article, "Cheesecake Factory is Found Partly Liable in $4.6 Million Janitory Wage Theft Case". 

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