The United States has a rich history of protecting workers, supporting unions, and strengthening the middle class. As the COVID-19 pandemic changes how people work and the gig economy replaces traditional employment, the laws protecting workers from abuse are more important than ever.
Attorneys general protect workers from wage theft, misclassification, discrimination, and other employment abuses. Their fair labor and employment divisions investigate complaints and bring actions against those employers that break state laws. Attorneys general also hold the federal government accountable for protecting workers and enforcing federal labor laws.
Below are examples of actions taken by attorneys general to protect workers:
- A multistate coalition of seven AGs filed a brief in federal court in support of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union in their lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s deregulation of critical worker and food safety protections in pork slaughterhouses.
- A coalition of 13 AGs called on Amazon and Whole Foods to strengthen measures to protect the health and safety of their workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- NY AG Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration challenging its rule that unlawfully narrowed workers’ rights to paid sick leave and emergency family leave during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A coalition of 19 AGs urged the Federal Trade Commission to help stop the harmful and excessive use of non-compete agreements in the workplace, particularly for low-wage workers.
- A coalition of 18 AGs filed a lawsuit to stop the Trump Administration from eliminating key labor protections for workers. The lawsuit challenged a U.S. Department of Labor rule that seeks to unlawfully narrow the joint employment standard under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA is the federal law establishing a baseline of critical workplace protections, such as minimum wage and overtime, for workers across the country. The joint employment standard determines when more than one employer is responsible under FLSA because both exert sufficient influence over a worker’s employment. This change would undermine critical workplace protections for the country’s low-and middle-income workers and could lead to increased wage theft and other labor law violations.
- A coalition of 13 AGs called for the Trump Administration to withdraw a proposed rule that would deny student teaching and research assistants at private colleges the right to organize and bargain collectively.
- A coalition of 19 AGs opposed the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed rule that would revoke important protections for tipped workers and make it harder for these workers to make a living wage.
- A coalition of 18 AGs opposed a proposal by the U.S. Department of Labor to change the method employers use to calculate overtime, which would force employees to work longer shifts while reducing their weekly earnings.