Sweatshops are bad because they take advantage of their workers in an extremely dramatic fashion. These abuses include, but are not limited to, severe underpayment, denial of benefits, dangerous work conditions and even child labor.
As of 2014, United States law defines a sweatshop as a facility that violates at least two fundamental labor laws. In terms of payment itself, possible violations include payment below state and federal standards, not keeping a time-card system for workers, paying staff unevenly or not paying employees on time. In many sweatshops, workers are forced to labor for unreasonable shifts, with forced overtime in some instances, and are pushed to meet inordinate quotas of production. Because of the intensity of the labor and the focus involved, the garment industry is often one of the worst offenders. In at least one case in El Salvador, workers were forced to work 11 hour shifts, six days a week, to produce basketball jerseys in time for tournament sales. If the workers were unable to perform the mandatory overtime, they were docked a full day's wages, according to Global Exchange.org. With regard to child labor, DoSomething.org estimates that, in developing countries, 250 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are forced to work in sweatshops or in similar conditions. Further abuses rampant in sweatshops include verbal abuse, sexual abuse and consistent exposure to toxic chemicals and other hazardous substances. In one factory along the Mexican-American border, managers intentionally winnowed out pregnant women from their labor force, in order to avoid paying out maternity benefits. In El Salvador, many pregnant women are simply fired as soon as they test positive, against the nation's laws, according to Human Rights watch.