A Pittsburgh-area company forced thousands of workers at a warehouse to work for less than $15 an hour, in violation of labor laws, a labor watchdog group said.
The workers were forced to work on low-income jobs, including in warehouses, which are exempt from state and federal laws that require a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and overtime.
The warehouse in the city’s affluent Pittsburgh neighborhood was shuttered and no one was charged in connection with the incident.
IKEa said the workers were fired on Monday after the company notified workers in March that the company was moving forward with the project.
The company said it would be paying them $5 an hour starting this month, but the workers said they were not compensated for their work and that their wages were not reflected in the company’s financial statements.
“The company was forced to stop its project,” IKEabay said in a statement.
“In its initial response, the company claimed that it could not provide workers with a fair and equal wage and was forced by the labor department to suspend its project.”
The company had asked the state for a temporary restraining order that would have allowed it to resume the project but the state declined.
Workers say they were paid about $13.50 an hour before being forced to accept lower pay.
Ikea says its workers are compensated for the work they do, but IKEatoday.com reports that many workers say they don’t get paid for the hours they work, and that many of the company workers are on public assistance.
IKEModelabor.com reported in April that some of the workers who had been working at the warehouse in question were being paid for their labor.
The government said that IKE paid workers $7 an hour for a minimum of 10 hours a week.
“We are appalled by this incident, and we are confident that the actions of IKE are being taken to protect the welfare of its employees,” the company said in its statement.