For many, the World Cup is the sporting event of the decade, and for good reason. It is a moment where countries and cultures from around the world gather for a singular purpose: to watch soccer. Already, the current World Cup has had plenty of drama: Japan defeating two World Cup champions only to be knocked out in penalty kicks; Morocco defeating Spain to be the only African team in the Quarterfinals; and Mexico not qualifying for the Knockout Rounds for the first time since 1978. Despite the dramatics, however, this World Cup differs from the ones before it, primarily due to the controversy that has surrounded its location: Qatar.
As many may be aware, Qatar won the bid for the 2022 World Cup. FIFA had already been in deep controversy due to the location of the 2018 World Cup (Russia). This year, however, there has been a massive and blatant affront on human rights. The working conditions within Qatar to build the stadiums were abhorrent. Migrant workers who primarily constructed the stadiums for the World Cup endured appalling labor violations that should not be overlooked. These violations included, but are not limited too, national origin discrimination, unpaid wages, and illegal recruitment practices.
Indeed, many of the migrant workers interviewed by Equidem, a human rights and labor rights charity, claimed that they faced significant exploitation, discrimination (primarily national origin-based), and abuse (many reported physical, mental, and verbal abuse). Many also reported unpaid wages, wages lower than what was originally promised, and failure to pay for overtime or end-of-service benefits. There was indeed a bevy of human rights violations that went into constructing the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup.
Though Texas’ following of at-will employment is draconian, employees do have protections in place to ensure that they do not experience the actions seen in Qatar. To begin, if one were to experience discrimination in the workplace (whether national origin, race, sex, disability, or age), then one would be protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. If one is not paid the wages to which they are entitled to, then one can file a claim under the Texas Payday Law. Similarly, if one is an hourly employee and they are not paid for the work they committed in overtime, then one is able to file a claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Lastly, if one experiences a workplace hazard, then they can file a claim with the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (“OSHA”). Once can also file a Whistleblower claim with OSHA if there is a workplace hazard, they report it, and are subsequently terminated.
The World Cup is an extraordinary event that one should feel free to enjoy and participate in. With that being said, the infractions and human rights violations that occurred in Qatar should not be ignored and should be acknowledged and addressed. One should have the right to work in an environment that is free of discrimination and danger. If you find yourself in such a situation where you feel your rights are being violated at the workplace, then it would be prudent to consult with an attorney and see what, if any, options you may have.