Can My Boss Do That?

The numbers are staggering: 3.6 million jobs lost between December 2007 and January 2009. The February unemployment figures, due out this week, will continue to be grim. When workers face job loss, they often don’t know where to turn for answers. They may be improperly denied their last paycheck, money due when their plant closes, or told by their employer that they cannot collect unemployment benefits.

Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) has created a website, Can My Boss Do That? , which enables workers to understand their rights and protections and advocate for themselves. It offers state-specific information geared to help real life situations:

  • A teacher is trying to find out if her student can collect unemployment after quitting because she was groped by her boss.
  • An upscale grocery store closes, with no notice. Workers are told to take their final pay in food and wine.
  • A worker doesn’t file for unemployment after his boss tells him that he isn’t eligible because he’s a part-time worker. He regularly worked 35 hours a week and was eligible.

“The need for clear, usable information for people who are facing unemployment is overwhelming,” said Anne Janks, worker advocate and website creator. “We’re seeing more bosses cutting corners and breaking employment laws. This website is one way workers can make sure they understand how best to protect themselves.”

A telephone press conference will be held on March 5 to review the website and explain how it will help newly unemployed workers and those who fear losing their jobs understand their rights and get their due benefits. With the unemployment crisis impacting the middle and working class, the call will focus on resources available for workers who have lost their jobs or fear for their job security.  Anne Janks, the website’s creator and director, will walk callers through the website   The Rev. C.J. Hawking of Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church in Oak Park, Illinois will discuss how the website will provide crucial resources to congregations that are dealing with the impact of the economic crisis. Joe Buczek, a worker in Miami, will discuss his experience of being told he could collect his last paycheck in groceries, and how he could have used good information to know his rights.

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