Tre and Anthony

High school students Tre and Anthony took a summer job at a landscaping company in 2014, mowing lawns and trimming trees. After working for two weeks in the hot sun, their employer refused to pay them.

The young men’s relatives tried to intervene on their behalf, but the employer was aggressive and unwilling to pay the wages. They called the police, who informed them that nonpayment of wages is a civil, not a criminal offense, and they would have to seek assistance from community groups or file a complaint in small claims court.

The young men finally received their pay after the Center for Worker Justice, a nonprofit group in Iowa, sent a letter to the employer signed by community allies.