From small companies to large corporations, it is not unheard of for employers to undercut the wages owed to their employees.
The profit for companies is in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually, but employees have access to advocates who will speak up for them in court.
A little background
It was during the Great Depression that Congress first addressed establishing minimum wage and overtime pay for workers. However, to get enough votes for the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, lawmakers agreed to exclude housekeepers, nannies and agricultural laborers from coverage. During the 1960s and 1970s, Congress extended coverage to most of these workers under amendments to the act.
The law ignored
Some employers still ignore the law and research shows that from 2009 to 2019, workers who were paid at the lowest level lost approximately 21% of their pay to wage theft. Some were not paid overtime. In some cases, employers lowered hourly pay rates and in others, employers failed to pay back wages owed to their workers.
New ordinance example
At a 2015 hearing in Philadelphia, PA, findings from a study undertaken through Temple University’s Sheller Center for Social Justice revealed that wage theft is a “calculated approach” for employers to maximize their profits at the expense of workers. The hearing resulted in the launch of a local wage-theft law. The law allows employees to recover wages owed to them faster than if they were to file a complaint with the state or federal government.
The case for speaking out
Speaking out comes down to the protection of workers’ rights. Employees who feel they are victims of wage theft can turn to advocates who understand both federal and New York State laws and can help them recover their losses.