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Minority Workers Victims Of Wage Theft In Illinois

Low-wage workers in Cook County lose $7.3 million each week in at least a dozen industries through violations of minimum wage and overtime laws, says a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"Unregulated Work in Chicago," a report by UIC's Center for Urban Economic Development, quantifies which industries, jobs, workers and employment practices are most associated with violations.

The report is posted on the center's homepage atwww.urbaneconomy.org.

The study surveyed 1,140 workers, including undocumented immigrants, those paid off the books, and others who might otherwise not report violations. The researchers estimate that wage theft affects 145,000 restaurant and retail employees, child care and home health care workers, housekeepers, cashiers, security guards, janitors and others.

"They're working overtime without pay, they're not receiving workers' comp when they are injured, and if they speak up, employers retaliate," said Nik Theodore, director of the center and co-author of the report.

"These practices have become business as usual in Chicago."

Women, immigrants and people of color were more likely to work in low‐wage industries, and therefore were at greater risk of workplace violations, the researchers found.

The authors propose policies to curb these trends and to increase enforcement by cities and the state.

"Unregulated Work in Chicago" was funded by the Ford Foundation, the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the UIC Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement.

UIC ranks among the nation's leading research universities and is Chicago's largest university with 26,000 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state's major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world.

For more information about UIC, please visit www.uic.edu

Anne Brooks Ranallo
aranallo@uic.edu
312-355-2523



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