Labor exploitation. Is it legal? Can I take action?

Labor exploitation is illegal because it violates all workers’ fundamental rights and guarantees, regardless of their nationality or immigration status.

What is labor exploitation?

Unfortunately, labor exploitation is an issue that remains valid. And it is understood as all those abuses that the employer commits against the employee, such as working under threat, receiving a lower payment for the work performed, or one that does not correspond to the responsibility, effort, and hours of work.

Labor exploitation is also linked to the lack of dignity and precarious working conditions when people are forced to perform specific tasks to survive or because they do not have the freedom to choose other alternatives.

Legal actions

Workers can report or file complaints with the Texas Workforce Commission, the government office charged with investigating these claims and overseeing that employees’ rights are respected to prevent them from being subjected to inferior or illegal working conditions.

For example, complaints can be filed with this office for:

  • Non-payment of minimum wage, overtime, or wage theft.
  • For not allowing hours of rest or feeding.
  • Any employment discrimination.
  • Child labor
  • Wrongful termination and other abuses.

In some economic activities such as agriculture, sewing, construction and public works, domestic work, hotels, and restaurants, there are frequent cases of exploitation and abuse by the employer, especially in the case of undocumented immigrants.

Human trafficking

Many experts regard labor exploitation as a form of modern slavery that is intended to gain financial gain from work performed by other people under the use of force, fraud, or coercion. This is the case of human trafficking (adults or children) for forced labor, commercial sexual acts, drug trafficking, and prostitution.

In these cases, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, USCIS, has mechanisms to receive complaints from any person or victim of this type of fraud.