Denied Dignity at Work in Illinois: An Initial Report of Findings

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In collaboration with Raise the Floor Alliance, a coalition founded by eight worker centers in the Chicago, NESRI documented what happens when workers try to address problems at work or improve their jobs. Using jointly designed surveys, we captured workers’ experiences to expose the way retaliation and intimidation are constantly deployed by low-wage employers and are perpetuating rampant illegal abuses in a growing portion of workplaces.    

Denied Dignity at Work in Illinois is an initial report of preliminary findings and implications based on the surveys and interviews with Illinois legal practitioners.

Our six initial findings include:

  • Workers often encounter more than one type of rights violation in low-wage jobs
  • Out of fear of retaliation, most workers avoid bringing attention to abuse
  • No path to justice is free from retaliation for workers confronting abuse and trying to improve their jobs
  • Employers use a variety of tactics to retaliate against workers, though firing workers is most common
  • Legal relief is too little too late for workers on a discouraging path to justice after retaliation
  • Employers who retaliate are rarely met with penalties 

The implications we identified are: 

  • Out-of-control retaliation has led to a breakdown in rule of law at work
  • Filing gaps is necessary, but improving conditions for workers will require a reliable way to get rapid relief
  • The process for securing legal protection for retaliation puts an unrealistic burden on workers
  • Training and support for workers as frontline partners in enforcement is needed

The full report and executive summary are available here.  

Additional Resources

denied dignity at work cover RTF NESRI Retaliation Initial Findings 02 2016 WEB