Workers Losing Billions Annually To Wage Theft
According to a report released by the Economic Policy Institute, employers are stealing billions of dollars from American workers’ paychecks each year. The failure to pay workers what they are legally entitled to is more commonly known as wage theft.
Examples of wage theft include not paying proper overtime, requiring working off the clock, denying legally required meal breaks and the miss-classification of workers as independent contractors.
Most commonly wage theft is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which provides for a federal minimum wage and allows states to set their own (higher) minimum wage, and requires employers to pay time and a half for all hours worked above 40 hours per week.
Wage Theft By The Numbers
According to the report with looked at the 10 largest states in the country, between 2013 and 2015, 4.1% of respondents reported that their hourly rates were less than minimum wage. With all factors considered, a total of $8 billion dollars is stolen from 2.4 million people annually via wage theft.
Who Are The Victims Of Wage Theft?
The majority of workers who are more prone to experiencing wage theft are those who are employed in non-union workplaces. Immigrant and native-born workers alike have their wages stolen, however low-wage workers are more vulnerable because those are the workers who are most afraid of losing their jobs if they file complaints.
Industries With The Most Reports Of Wage Theft:
Long Term Care
Is There A Solution?
The Department of Labor had stepped up investigations and prosecution of wage violations, recovering tens of millions of dollars for worker, however the problem remains largely hidden.
In some states, including Texas, bills have passed that have made it possible for employers to be criminally prosecuted for denying their employers wages they are owed.
There are two main routes that workers can take to try to recover wages that were stolen. The first is direct action; getting a group of workers together to confront their boss or tell the business’ customers what is happening. The second route is through class action lawsuits against large employers.
Where Can Workers Turn To For Help?
Many advocates for the prevention of wage theft believe education is key when it comes to putting an end to this issue. Workers may suspect that there is a problem, but because of a lack of education on this topic, many don’t know where to turn for help.
There are over 200 worker centers throughout the country, small grassroots organizations that are at the forefront in wage enforcement actions. Many of these organizations are working on passing state and local legislation in an attempt to put an end to wage theft.
How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
If you believe that your employer is not paying you all of the overtime that you deserve, is improperly taking a portion of your tips, or you are receiving less than minimum hourly wage, it is in your best interest to consult a Wage Loss/FLSA attorney. Here at The Carlson Law Firm, our lawyers are ready to help you with wage and hour law violations. We handle claims throughout the state of Texas, as well as across the country.
We would be happy to discuss your claim in confidence, and provide free consultations to answer your questions and evaluate your claim.
- Written by Jill Fowler