Wage Theft

Here’s a riddle for you: if there are 1,000 federal Department of Labor investigators and 135 million American workers, how can you manage to help the hundreds of thousands of those workers who are experiencing wage theft? Perhaps you empower organizations like the Workers’ Center?

Interfaith Worker Justice says ‘Wage theft is the pervasive and illegal practice of not paying workers for all of their work. It includes violations of minimum wage laws; not paying time and a half overtime pay; forcing workers to work off the clock; workers not receiving their final paychecks; misclassifying employees as independent contractors to avoid paying minimum wage and overtime (as well as employers’ share of FICA tax); and not paying workers at all.’ A category of wage theft I would add is the stealing of tips, which is an all-too-frequent occurrence around our area. Wage theft is a very common problem that we deal with here at the Tompkins County Workers’ Center.

A proposed federal bill, HR 6268, The Wage Theft Prevention and Community Partnership Act, introduced by Representative Phil Hare of Illinois, addresses the overwhelming problem of rectifying wage theft. The bill would allow ‘enforcement agencies and community organizations to educate workers about their rights and remedies.’

Interfaith Worker Justice is urging workers centers to educate the public about the pervasiveness of wage theft by observing the Wage Theft National Day of Action on November 18th. Let’s spread the word!