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May 15, 2006
Dept. of Labor to Release Names of Workers Owed Back Wages

The Department of Labor has agreed to release the names of thousands "unlocatable" low-wage workers who are owed back wages as part of government settlements, according to Public Citizen, an advocacy group that filed a lawsuit seeking the release of the names.

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Public Citizen dropped the lawsuit after the department agreed to disclose the names. Public Citizen filed the lawsuit on behalf of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), a Chicago-based workers rights organization.

In April 2005, IWJ submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the department for the names of all workers who were owed back wages but whom the government was unable to locate. The department denied the request, citing privacy concerns.

"This information will help thousands of past, present, and future low-wage workers," says Kim Bobo, executive director of IWJ. "Not only will it alert them of money that is rightfully theirs, but it could encourage more workers to report wage theft and other wage violations."

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