Annette Bernhardt

Annette Bernhardt is policy co-director of NELP. Her most recent book is the co-edited The Gloves-Off Economy: Workplace Standards at the Bottom of America's Labor Market.

Recent Articles

Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers

Rebuilding our economy on the back of illegal working conditions is morally untenable -- and it is bad economics.

Last February, a chain of gourmet groceries in New York City paid nearly $1.5 million in wages owed to 550 workers. In the same month, the Los Angeles city attorney charged two owners and a manager of several car washes with paying workers a flat daily rate of $35 to $40 for shifts that lasted eight hours or longer. Also this year, a Chicago-area temp agency settled a class-action suit for nearly half a million dollars; when workers accumulated more than 40 hours a week at different client companies, the agency "split" their checks to avoid triggering mandatory overtime pay. These cases are part of a growing stream of abuses reported by community organizers, unions, legal-services offices, and even government agencies. But until now it has been impossible to know the scale of the problem. Are violations of workplace laws confined to a few peripheral employers affecting small numbers of workers -- or a larger trend reshaping the American workplace? To find out, we and our colleagues...