When many people think about theft in America, they consider stories frequently profiled on television. Maybe they imagine people breaking into a jewelry store, for example, or robbing a bank. Maybe they just think of your average home invasion where someone’s television is taken while they’re at work.
But none of these things come anywhere close to the biggest type of theft in the United States: wage theft.
Every year, corporations steal billions of dollars in wages from their own workers. They do this to such an extent that it is a larger financial crime than all of the other types of theft in the country put together. You could add up every single home invasion and bank robbery, and companies would’ve taken more money than that throughout the course of the year.
How does it happen?
It’s not as though entities are stealing money from an employee’s purse or wallet. The action is more indirect.
Wage theft itself covers many different activities. For instance, some workers are not paid for the overtime hours that they worked. Some workers are never given their rightful tips. Others simply have their paychecks altered to change the amount of hours it appears that they worked. There are many examples of how corporations pull this off.
Sadly, such instances often go undetected or unreported. Or, the ramifications if caught aren’t that bad. Someone who robs a gas station, for instance, is going to spend time in jail if they get caught. But a CEO who robs its workers of rightfully owed wages may simply have to pay a fine.
As an employee, it’s important that you understand what you are rightfully owed in your position and available legal options if you believe you were a victim of wage theft in some capacity.