Echoing the results of previous studies, the Economic Policy Institute recently noted that wage theft has reached “epidemic” levels in the United States, with millions of American workers losing wages to the practice each year.
Wage theft, an umbrella term that is defined as “the illegal withholding of wages or denial of benefits that are rightfully owed an employee,” covers a number of different violations. According to WageTheft.org, “common forms of wage theft are non-payment of overtime, not giving workers their last paycheck after a worker leaves a job, not paying for all the hours worked, not paying minimum wage, and even not paying a worker at all.”
Wage theft is particularly disheartening because of who it targets: those who both desperately need their wages, and therefore, those who are least likely to protest the injustices against them for fear of losing their job, as menial as the wages may be. “If you steal from your employer, you’re going to be hauled out of the in handcuffs,” said Kim Bobo, a Chicago workers rights advocate. “But if your employer steals from you, you’ll be lucky to get your money back,” she added, per Salon.