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Electric car company in hot water over wage dispute

In 2010, a Chinese-owned electric vehicle company accepted $1.6 million in federal funding to headquarter its business in downtown Los Angeles and hire new employees with a livable wage. That company is now under scrutiny after a labor and community coalition, Jobs to Move America, filed a complaint. The complaint states that the employees were not paid a livable wage and thus, the company violated its agreement.

The coalition now wants the company to reimburse its employees or pay back the taxpayer money it accepted five years ago. The company claims that because it set up its company in a refurbished vacant building, it was designated as a "construction contract" and thus it was allowed to pay its employees a minimum hourly wage without health insurance.

This is not an isolated incident, as there are companies throughout the country that try to cut corners when possible in an effort to improve the bottom line at the expense of its workers. Knowing this, it is crucial for employees to be mindful of their own situation, and to make certain that they are properly compensated for the hours they put in under the agreed upon wage.

When you begin working for an employer, you have entered into an agreement to receive an hourly wage or weekly rate for salaried positions for the work you do for the company. Even if, after filling out the required paperwork, your wage was offered verbally, it is still a contract with the employer, and any violation from that wage is considered a wage-and-hour dispute. It is in your and your co-workers' best interest to protect those rights and not let an employer take advantage of you by paying less than the agreed-upon wage.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Electric vehicle firm BYD accused of violating L.A. wage rules," Emily Alpert Reyes, Accessed on Dec. 1, 2015

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