Bangor janitor awarded over $4,000 in owed benefits due to misclassification
Bangor rally against wage theft part of coast-to-coast day of action
Every year, millions of workers are robbed of billions of dollars they’ve worked for but never seen. These include Willie Wilcox, a Bangor janitor who was awarded over $4,000 in back Unemployment Insurance benefits after being determined to have been misclassified as an “independent contractor.” On Thursday, Nov. 18th, Food AND Medicine’s Worker Center of Eastern Maine project held a rally in front of Bangor’s Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building to call attention to this scandal and ask our elected officials to help prevent it from repeating in the future. Workers, including Wilcox, and supporters spoke at this rally and press conference, which was part of a National Day of Action Against Wage Theft that included actions in more than 50 cities across the U.S.
Wage theft, the illegal underpayment or nonpayment of workers’ wages, has been reported in many industries. One highly prevalent form of wage theft is misclassification of employees as “independent contractors.”
Workers such as Wilcox who are misclassified are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act, the Davis-Bacon Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act or any other law designed to protect employees. In order to become eligible to receive Unemployment Insurance when laid off, they must first prove they were misclassified. In addition, businesses that misclassify workers avoid payroll taxes, Workers Compensation and Medicare payments, and payments into the Unemployment Insurance Fund, cheating these programs out of needed revenue and creating an unfair advantage.