A recent investigative report released by The Dallas Morning News revealed that the state of Texas failed to implement basic defenses to discourage wage theft, or unpaid wages, for construction workers and cleanup crews after Hurricane Harvey. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there has been a trend of employers failing to pay workers their rightful wages after a natural disaster. Many employers use vulnerable workers they can easily exploit after a disaster in order to make a greater profit from the rebuild.

According to The Dallas Morning News, the state of Texas “…made no significant outreach to low-wage workers in high-risk industries such as construction.” Outreach efforts like these are a basic strategy believed to discourage wage theft.

The Texas Workforce Commission investigates an average of 13,180 wage claims annually, assigning approximately 700 cases to each of the 19 labor law investigators to process. Many times claims involving the same company with similar evidence are decided differently by the agency. Some workers receive their hard-earned money, while others do not.

An example of such underpayment occurred in Corpus Christi, Texas after Hurricane Harvey. Just days after the storm, this worker was hired to repair damages to a hotel near Corpus Christi, Texas. He and over 100 other employees worked 10-12 hour shifts in the Texas summer heat to gut the hotel, removing debris and the rotting/mold-infested interior from the four-story building.

When it came time for the worker to be compensated, he found his paycheck was $900 short of what he was promised. He was not the only employee who experienced this issue; several other workers also found their paychecks were short, while some weren’t paid at all. It has been nearly a year since the team worked to clean up the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, yet many claim they still have not been paid despite numerous complaints to their employers.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) has established guidelines for employers which guarantee salary and overtime rights for employees. The purpose of these laws are to protect individual workers from being undervalued and underpaid. Our labor and employment attorneys are experienced in analyzing claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act and know the tactics some companies use to avoid properly paying their employees.

If you are working more than 40 hours a week, there’s a possibility that you are owed overtime pay. Even salaried/non-hourly employees may be entitled to overtime pay.

If you believe that you are not receiving fair compensation for the hours you have worked, contact The Potts Law Firm for your free consultation with one of our experienced employment lawyers.


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