Wage theft is a serious issue affecting the entire nation, including Minnesota. Millions of American workers have had their wages stolen by their employers, and according to a report from the Department of Labor, wage theft disproportionately affects low-wage workers.
The Department of Labor found that minimum wage violations (wage theft for minimum wage workers), “puts a potentially vulnerable population further at risk.” The report studied California and New York minimum wage violations, and found that younger workers and women are more likely to be victims of wage theft than older works and men. Additionally, the Department of Labor wrote:
“There is a clear relationship between educational attainment and the probability of experiencing a minimum wage violation.”
A study by Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) published last year found similar results: that most low-wage workers in the Twin Cities live below the poverty level and many are victims of wage theft.
CTUL’s Workplace Rights Defenders survey found that 49 percent of the workers surveyed in the Twin Cities reported experiencing wage theft, including 66% of janitors.
Last year, the federal and Minnesota state governments recovered about $1.5 million for 2,300 Minnesota employees, which averages $650 per person.
A major source of wage theft comes from employers refusing to give employees their final paycheck, but also includes misclassifying employees as independent contractors, and failing to provide paystubs showing the number of hours worked, among other violations.
The Department of Labor acknowledges that employees who are victims of wage theft are often reluctant to come forward, possibly because of the risk to themselves and their already low wages if they complain.