In the last year, $1.2 million were stolen from Houston workers through wage theft.
Elizabeth Trovall with Houston Public Media | POSTED ON MARCH 20, 2019, 4:55 PM
Houston’s community organization Faith and Justice Worker Center mapped 768 abuse claims reported through their office in the 12-month period ending February 2019.
Zip codes in Sharpstown, Gulfton and Spring Branch had the largest concentration of claims, according to Faith and Justice Worker Center Director Marianela Acuña Arreaza.
“They’re working class communities, Latino, heavily immigrant populated areas,” she said.
Sharpstown alone had 41 separate labor abuse complaints, according to Faith and Justice Worker Center data.
Although some areas saw many abuse claims, complaints were widespread across the metro area.
“We have 130 zip codes that have people who have reported some kind of labor abuse,” said Acuña Arreaza. “The most frequent abuse that people call us about is wage theft.”
In the last year, $1.2 million were stolen from Houston workers, according to claims reported to the group.
Other complaints included threats made in the workplace, discrimination, health and safety violations and sexual abuse.
Claims were in fields like construction, domestic labor, food service and manufacturing.
Wage theft and worker exploitation is a common problem, especially within the immigrant population, according to lawyers and community members.
One 2017 study found that 73 percent of Houston’s undocumented immigrant day laborers said they had been victims of wage theft in the wake of Harvey.
Despite the prevalence of exploitation, fear of deportation, losing their jobs and not knowing their rights keeps some workers from speaking up.