Once upon a time, Wage Theft was only a problem of ‘lower echelon’ employees due to the fact that it was perceived that most ‘lower echelon’ employees didn’t have the expertise or knowledge to know how to ‘fight’ the system….In the past 12 to 18 months since I last wrote about Wage Theft more information has come to light and it appears that not just business owners of small businesses are involving themselves in Wage Theft….it is an across the ‘board’ phenomenon….small time and classless ‘employers’ are joined by many well known companies in and out of the main stream business world.
There are now advertisements on TV from major plaintiff oriented law firms that bring to light the harassing behavior of business owners and corporations that feel that they are above the law or who choose to ‘interpret’ the law in their own manor. There are front page articles in the major newspapers that bring to light these ‘atrocities’ (yes, I consider them ‘atrocities’…when the business owners/corporations are calling the shots and individuals are counting on proper compensation that is being withheld by these business owners/corporations, it is an ‘atrocity’ to the person working that is NOT receiving proper compensation.) There are now major law firms that handle Wage Theft cases on a regular basis.
Working off the clock, stealing tips, not paying overtime or misclassifying workers are just a few of the ways employers attempt to steal wages….I’ve seen it all and I’ve been a recipient of Wage Theft. It is about time that society attempts to put a stop to it…Please continue to follow my BLOG’s….I will have something early next week on Trump’s position regarding the Obama administration’s position on FLSA and overtime. Let’s just say, the Trump opinion is a tad bit different than the Obama position.
The major difference that I’ve seen recently is that more law firms are putting programs in place to help those that are victims of Wage Theft and there are more laws on the books or are being considered on a state level for protection against Wage Theft….there are more websites on the internet that help anyone….victims/perpetrators alike…to obtain more information about Wage Theft.
The following is a list of some of the things that can be done if your or someone you know has been a victim of Wage Theft:
***File a complaint with the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division; the DOL has over 200 Wage and Hour Division offices in every state; find your local WHD office and report your claim;
***If you suspect that your employer has already been reported to WHD and that you might be owed back wages, see if there is existing or pending Wage Theft legislation in your city or state;
***Contact one of the major universities around the country; many, especially those that have law schools, have ‘clinics’ that are ‘manned’ by law students but delve into areas such as Wage Theft (the University of Pennsylvania has one and they are open to any claims, especially those involving local companies);
***Contact a major law firm and see what they can offer; this may cost you up front and that is something we don’t want but it is worth taking a look at what can be done for you.
***Find a nearby worker justice organization and get involved; many organizations have splinter groups that help workers…look into them;
***See if there is city, county or state Wage Theft legislation in your area and call your elected officials in support; If there is no campaign for Wage Theft legislation in your area, state a campaign to pass one;
***Report unethical employers to the US Department of Labor;
***Know which areas of the economy are more susceptible to Wage Theft….no group of workers is immune, including workers earning good wages. It is more likely to occur in non-union workplaces. Union workers generally receive pay according to their negotiated contract, and any Wage Theft would be challenged by the Union. Immigrant and native born workers alike have their wages stolen, though low wage workers are particularly vulnerable. Agriculture, poultry processing, janitorial services, restaurant work, garment manufacturing, long term care, home health care and retail are the industries with the most reported cases of Wage Theft;
***Jobs that are more likely to be a candidate for Wage Theft: IT Workers, Service Technicians, Installers, Sales Representatives, Nurse and HealthCare Workers; Tipped Employees; Oil and Gas Field Workers; Call Center Workers; Personal Bankers and Mortgage Bankers, Retail Employees.
***Learn more about passing legislation in your own city or state;
***Learn what resources are available for filing a Wage Theft complaint on behalf of a worker;
***There are over 200 worker centers throughout the country, small grassroots organizations that are at the forefront in wage enforcement actions;
***There are two (2) main routes that workers and their advocates use to try to recover wages that were stolen. The first path is direct action-getting a group of workers to confront their boss or tell the business’ customers what is happening. The second route is through lawsuits, sometimes class action suits against large employers.
Where do workers turn if their wages have been stolen?
***While many reforms are needed, there are some specific changes that can be made by the new leadership of the DOL….and there are changes that require new legislation by Congress;
***Case-by-case resolution of individual complaints is not enough; the DOL must engage in targeted investigations of industries and employers where Wage Theft is rampant, in partnership with community organizations and congregations that workers trust, groups that know who the criminal employers are;
***Workers need a consistently proactive, transparent and accountable Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division or the dishonest employers of the world are going to continue to do what they do best….steal from their employees.
I could write Ad Nauseam about Wage Theft; I will regularly bring to my reader’s attention what companies and individuals who run those companies have done to ‘employee’s’ first hand….however, I would like to spend my time helping those organizations that would like to set the record straight or helping those individuals who have been a victim of this ongoing issue. If you would like to have more information about Wage Theft (I can talk about it Ad Nauseam, as well,) please contact Rosanne Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 484-947-7063.