When you hear the term "wage theft" you may automatically picture someone literally stealing money from an employee. However, it is much more complex and dirty than that. Wage theft can come in many forms, including not paying workers overtime pay, failing to pay workers minimum wage and not paying new employees at all.
How do employers get away will this blatant form of stealing?
One of the reasons is because many victims of wage theft work in low wage, low-skilled positions and are fearful of losing their jobs so they do not report the wage theft. This is especially true for workers who are immigrants who know if they complain, they will be easily replaced by another worker.
Wage theft can happen in all types of industries. The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor reports that it happens most frequently in the following industries:
- Garment manufacturing
- Home health care
The Wage and Hour Division says some companies may take the risk of underpaying workers because there is a low risk of being investigated and ultimately caught breaking the law. On the other side, business advocates say many companies are violating wage and hour laws unintentionally over employees classified as exempt or independent contractors.
Wage theft is a serious issue. Workers deserve to be paid fair wages and end up losing thousands of dollars and employee protections when they are victims of wage theft. Contact an attorney if you believe you have been the victim of wage theft.