Labor Department Launches Hispanic Worker Protection Program

The Department of Labor is teaming up with the Mexican and Salvadorian Consulates in Dallas and other community, faith-based and governmental organizations to lauch the Justice and Equality in the Workplace Program of Dallas.

The program will educate workers on their rights and responsibilities as well as provide an avenue for non-English speakers to report violations of laws enforced by the OSHA, DOL's Wage and Hour Division and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance.

"We want to help Hispanic workers realize the American dream and be an integral part of the American workforce," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. There are over 14.5 million Hispanic workers in the United States.

The partnership also formalizes a shared commitment by the Labor Department and Consulates of Mexico and El Salvador to work together through information sharing and mutual support to promote justice, safety and equality in the workplace.

A telephone line will be set up to receive inquiries from the public and channel those calls to the appropriate federal or state agency. OSHA, Wage and Hour Division and OFCCP will conduct training sessions and provide assistance the Mexican Consulate in Dallas to refer complaints to appropriate DOL agencies.

The Houston Justice and Equality in the Workplace Program, which was created in July 2001, has already aided the Wage and Hour Division to recover over $1.3 million in back wages for 1,900 workers as the result of investigations initiated by referrals from the partnership. OSHA, with the help of the Justice and Equality in the Workplace Program, will disseminate health and safety information, compliance assistance information and enforcement of health and safety laws. Nearly 70 percent of all calls at the Houston program were referred to the Department of Labor.

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