Who Hijacked Our Country

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Wage Theft: a Multi-Billion-Dollar-A-Year Industry

We've all experienced and/or heard about these petty sleazy tactics:

A supervisor tells a subordinate Hey, before you clock in, you wanna grab one end of that crate?

An employee is given an ironclad deadline to finish a project, and the employee doesn't have enough scheduled hours to possibly meet this deadline.  The worker can either be disciplined for failing to meet the deadline, OR he/she can meet the deadline by working some unpaid overtime.

Employees are required to wear a uniform.  These uniforms are not provided by the employer.

These are three examples of wage theft.  According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), low-wage workers in the U.S. are being robbed of $50 billion a year by unscrupulous employers.  That was not a typo.  $50 billion every year stolen from those who can least afford it.

The three above examples of wage theft are all illegal under the Federal Labor Standards Act.  Some states and cities are trying to provide stricter enforcement of the Federal Labor Standards Act by giving more resources to investigators and making it easier for workers to file their complaints.

The EPI wants to provide stricter enforcement at the federal level, but that seems unlikely at the moment.

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Blogger Jerry Critter said...

I think you mean unscrupulous employers, not "unscrupulous employees".

It's think what an additional 50 billion in the hands of the workers would do for the economy.

September 14, 2014 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jerry: Thanks for the heads-up. EmployER, EmployEE -- Doh!

If workers had an additional $50 billion to spend every year, they'd become the "job creators" that CEOs are pretending to be.

September 14, 2014 at 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here we have white collar crime at it's best! To let a corporation who has an army of paid attorneys and HR professionals get away from properly paying by legal, and publicly known (I mean by law it has to be posted at every workplace) wage guidelines with a shrug of it's shoulders and an "Oops" is a crime.

This is no doubt proportional to the decline in Unions.

In your own backyard for years Nordstroms got away with having all of it's managers work an extra day without pay until someone finally got the nerve to complain and it turned out to be a no-brainer, it was illegal.

No punishment, just backpay


September 14, 2014 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: I agree it's a serious crime for both parties -- the company that steals from its employees and the government agencies that let it slide. I didn't know that about Nordstrom; I'd always heard they were a great company to work for.

"No punishment, just backpay." Kind of like a shoplifter being told, "Now just give back the stolen merchandise and you can go on home, no questions asked."

September 14, 2014 at 7:43 PM  
Blogger Jerry Critter said...

A slap on the wrist is not a preventive measure. If anything, it encourages bad behavior. It is like a no interest loan. Pay now or pay later with no cost.

September 14, 2014 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...

Poor people have no voice in government, no 4th estate champions, have no police protection, no lawyers and are preyed upon by loan sharks both street level and high faultin three piece suit respectable banking kinds.

September 14, 2014 at 9:20 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jerry: Usually the fine is a lot less than the amount the company "earns" through their crooked behavior. There's no deterrent whatsoever.

Grung: And it's a vicious cycle. The poorer they get, the less of a voice they have. And the richer the gougers get, the louder their voice gets and the more clout they have.

September 15, 2014 at 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Jess said...

If someone told me I had to wear a specific item to work and did not provide certain item, I would tell them to fuck off just like in Office Space with the flair. Come on, we've all seen that movie and laughed at that part.

September 15, 2014 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Demeur said...

Tom you wouldn't believe the shit that's going on out there in the work place. People working with no breaks or lunch. Working off the clock and god forbid if you're on salary.

September 15, 2014 at 8:26 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jess: LOL, this makes me want to watch Office Space again.

September 15, 2014 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Demeur: I believe it. I retired 10 years ago, and it sounds like the typical workplace has gotten a lot worse.

September 15, 2014 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

I work in the public sector, and frequently work beyond regular hours to get things done. I'm sometimes asked to do things like presentations that require prep time that isn't included in my 8-hour day. It can be irritating, but I tend to just go ahead and do it because I like my job and want to keep it, and I like the people I work with. They all experience the same kinds of things too when it comes to the "extras".

September 17, 2014 at 5:02 PM  

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