The phrase "wage theft" generally refers to employees being denied full compensation for their work under the law. Often, low-wage and immigrant workers are victims of wage theft and are denied meal breaks, overtime pay and minimum wage and are forced to work off the clock without pay. It is illegal to not pay or to underpay workers their wages. Wage theft can occur when workers are not paid, underpaid or misclassified as independent contractors. Wage theft is getting more attention as it is a growing problem.
A significant number of U.S. workers are being denied core wage and workplace protections that many Americans take for granted—the right to be paid at least the minimum wage, the right to be paid for overtime hours, the right to take meal breaks, access to workers’ compensation when injured and the right to advocate for better working conditions.
When employers take advantage of workers, it drives down the standards for everyone.
Wage theft happens to at least one out of five day laborers each month, according to Maria Figueroa, a professor at the Cornell University-School of Industrial and Labor Relations.