Wage theft: How employers steal millions from American workers every week

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    June 28, 2014 6:49 a.m.

    Is it possible that the myriad of laws that constrict an employer, or otherwise mandate cumbersome bookkeeping, are in place because so many employers are stinkers?

    I mean Walmart was found to cheat employees. They make billions, and still cheated employees.

    The employer-employee relationship is uneven. The power lies with the employer. It is the job of government to level that relationship so that the employer does not take complete advantage of its power.

  • cocosweet Sandy, UT
    June 25, 2014 8:50 a.m.

    I was young (and stupid) and had no idea what my option were when I was a "victim" of wage theft. Fortunately someone with more experience reported it to the company (who has been sued before) and it was stopped. Don't blame the victims for not standing up for themselves, often they don't know what rights they have. Blame the thieves, just as you would blame someone who robbed your house (what?? you don't have a security system and a big dog? then it is your fault you were robbed). As for "go find another job"? Really? And if they don't and go on unemployment/welfare? Then are they just bums who deserve to be homeless. It's a complicate issue so don't make it sound like there is an easy solution.

  • Danish American Payson, UT
    June 25, 2014 8:29 a.m.

    @DN Subscriber: You hit the nail on the head. When I was working for a company that did government contracting work the rules and regulations were so cumbersome that no one could do it right. I'd be willing to bet that the cost of State & Federal regulations are three to four times higher than the "stolen" wages and if it wasn't so costly to do business everyone, including employees, would make more money. These regulations and unions, have made working in many places a them vrs us situation.

  • Opinionated Sandy, UT
    June 25, 2014 8:27 a.m.

    As if employees don't practice wage theft. When you are at work, is your 8 hours a day dedicated to your employer or is some of that time wasted on personal issue, phone calls, checking your messages, talking around the water cooler or coffee machine? When you need to smoke, is the time outside gabbing with your friends part of that 8 hours? If we want employers to be more fair with employees, employees may need to be more fair with employers.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    June 24, 2014 11:39 p.m.

    Another way wage theft occurs is when primary contractors don't pay subcontractors who in turn can't pay their employees. Happens all the time.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    June 24, 2014 8:39 p.m.

    @ Noodlekaboodle

    I'm genuinely glad it worked out for you. You talk in terms of "salary," though, and this typically means a position higher up the economic ladder than an hourly worker, thus perhaps a little more leverage. And there are so many other factors that go into whether or not a given person in a given situation will assert her/himself: personality traits; cultural upbringing; children to feed, etc. It is just too easy to say, "Well, people should stand up for themselves." Of course they "should." And employers "should not" exploit their employees. But neither reflects the reality on the ground. And the reality right now is that hourly wage earners have fewer options because we're in an employer's market.

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    June 24, 2014 2:53 p.m.

    @Karen R
    Then it comes down to having the guts to stand up for yourself. I have done this to a boss twice, once the illegal practices stopped, the other time the owner turned around and fired me on the spot. It was tough, but I got another job, and sued my old employer for failing to compensate me for the time I worked. It took 2 years, but eventually we settled for just over my yearly salary to drop the whole thing. I can't tell you how it works out for everyone, but you should value yourself enough that you demand that the pay you were promised. If everyone stood up to their employers over this you'd see it a lot less. The reason it keeps happening is because it works.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    June 24, 2014 11:53 a.m.

    @ Noodlekaboodle

    "A threat of a DOL complaint will do one of two things, if your employer is smart they'll just follow the law, if they won't or retaliate by firing you.....well your probably going to make more money than if you actually worked at the job."

    Your second option typically isn't realistic for low wage workers, particularly in a tight job market like we have today. They don't have a financial safety net to draw upon while waiting for a (potential) settlement check. Unethical employers know this and use this leverage to get more than they're paying for.

  • 65TossPowerTrap Salmon, ID
    June 24, 2014 9:28 a.m.

    Yeah, blame wage theft on Obamacare. While we're at it, let's blame Obamacare for the melting polar ice caps.

  • DVD Taylorsville, 00
    June 24, 2014 8:52 a.m.

    If you're in a place like China or Bangladesh, the advice of 'if you don't like the job, go find another one' does not work. It's been set up so that even high skills will not pay your bills. Even if you 'start your own enterprise', it's been set up that you can be crushed with no effort. The problem of outsourcing to countries like that is that those same employers are bringing that culture and those crushing practices here as much as they can get away with. But it seems that totalitarian governments and corrupt power/finanicial elites have prevented the export of good labor laws and practices, so we're not seeing much of a benefit given to those areas that we offshore to. Slavery should be illegal, and so should using slavery overseas. Slavery is wrong, no matter where it is.

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    June 24, 2014 8:50 a.m.

    If you plan on working a minimum wage job....your employer most likely is going to try and rip you off. Learn the laws(making you clock out, and wait to see if the store gets busy, being asked to work off the clock, or not receiving a boost to minimum wage in tipped jobs when you don't make minimum from tips are all illegal and common practices) A threat of a DOL complaint will do one of two things, if your employer is smart they'll just follow the law, if they won't or retaliate by firing you.....well your probably going to make more money than if you actually worked at the job.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 24, 2014 8:35 a.m.

    At least this rabble rousing class warfare promoting piece is identified as being instigated by "...analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank based in Washington, D.C."

    Many of the problems identified stem from the myriad laws, rules and regulations dictated by the federal government. Most were put in place to ostensibly "fix" earlier problems, but end up adding more complexity, confusion and inefficiency.

    All wage and hour agreements should be exclusively between the worker and the employer for whatever terms they find mutually agreeable. If you don't like the wage or hours offered, don't take the job, or conversely, don't hire that worker.

    However, forcing stuff like Obamacare on to employers has, as conservative predicted, killed jobs.

    And, allowing unrestricted illegal immigration has increased the labor supply when we already have a shortage of jobs, Worse, the illegals have depressed wages and encouraged illegal acts by some employers. (Hey, feds ignore laws, so why can't XYZ company ignore some too?)

    Some people don't get or keep jobs because their productivity or attitude is not worth the cost of paying them. Not an employer problem but a worker problem there.

  • IDC Boise, ID
    June 24, 2014 8:26 a.m.

    I do not question that there are many that are taken advantage of. Labor laws do cut both ways. I have employees that want to work more but I am not willing to pay overtime so we are very strict in limiting hours to less than 40 per week. If I need more work done, I will hire additional employees.

  • sally Kearns, UT
    June 24, 2014 6:56 a.m.

    When you are at the bottom of the ladder at work, you are a slave. Rarely has anyone in our family been treated with respect whether it be a contract work situation or an hourly wage. If one reports an issue, then, they are asked to leave the company and find new employment. It does not matter what profession it is or what degree or training you have, it has all been the same. It is the same in all the states we have lived in. Only one of our children has experienced "the dream job". It is not just in work situations, it is also in religious organizations and charities where you do not receive financial compensation.