There are so many ways for your employer to steal wages from you. All of these forms of wage theft may not necessarily be deliberate attempts by the employer to steal your money, but they are all reckless and unacceptable. Your employer could fail to pay you overtime wages. An oversight could lead to your paycheck missing some of the money that you are owed. You could be forced to work off-the-clock hours, or you could be misclassified as an employee, resulting in lost wages for an employee.
The point of all that is this: wage theft happens, and it happens in many forms and in many business sectors. This isn’t a negligent act that occurs only in blue collar industries. White collar employees and even workers for very small companies can feel the bite of wage theft.
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) compiled some data on wage theft in the country, and their report found that in 2012, $280 million in backpay was recovered for 308,000 workers. The monetary figure represents about double the amount stolen in 2012 from bank robberies, street robberies, convenience store robberies and gas station robberies. If it’s possible for this to be even worse, the EPI believes the figures could be low since there aren’t enough inspectors — roughly 1,100 — to cover the millions of employers out there who could potentially commit acts of wage theft.
So what’s the lesson here? For employers, it’s simple: just don’t steal the wages of your employees or force them to work hours that can’t be paid. For employees, it is a stark reminder to always check your paycheck and to ensure you aren’t being shorted the wages you are due.
New York Times, “Wage Theft Across The Board,” April 21, 2014