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January 19, 2006
Group Sues Labor Dept. for Names of Those Owed Back Wages

A Chicago-based worker advocacy organization has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Labor, seeking the names of thousands of "unlocatable" workers who are owed back wages from government settlements with employers.

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Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), represented by the consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen, filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia .

The group says the department has cited privacy issues in refusing to release the names under the Freedom of Information Act.

IWJ wants to create a searchable database that could be put on the Internet.

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

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