How Low Income Workers Lose Billions as Companies Steal from Their Paychecks

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Derrell Odom explains how he worked five hours of overtime just to be pulled aside by his manager who told him he would not be paid the time and a half pay for the 5 hours he worked, but instead, the hours would be moved into his next week’s pay check at the regular minimum wage hourly rate.

Derrell’s story is similar to thousands of other low wage workers who fall victim to their employers and rarely speak of the crimes committed against them as they struggle to make ends meet working pay check to pay check only to be cheated out of hours of pay.

WASHINGTON (NNPA) –  Employers pickpocket billions of dollars from low-wage workers, a crime that disproportionately hurts Blacks and often goes underreported, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

Blacks account for 27.1 percent restaurant workers living in poverty compared to Whites who make up less than 14 percent of restaurant workers who share the same fate. Some employers skirt wage and overtime laws, because the relative penalties are so low. Currently, for employers who fail to pay minimum-wage or overtime, the maximum civil money penalty is about $1,000. “For giant corporations such as Wal-Mart and Dollar General, maximum civil money penalties per violation should probably be at least $25,000, while small businesses should be subject to smaller fines – perhaps $5,000 per violation,” said the report. “Clearly, the fines should be sufficient to deter violations and to make it economically unwise to violate the law.” The United States Labor Department and state-level labor officials managed to recover close to $1 billion in stolen wages in 2012, according to data collected from 44 states. That “is only the tip of the wage-theft iceberg, since most victims never sue and never complain to the government,” stated the report. In a blog post in April 2014, Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of EPI wrote: “Few local governments have any resources or staff to combat wage theft, and several states have closed down or so severely cut back their labor departments that workers are left mostly unprotected and vulnerable to exploitation.” The EPI report on wage theft recommended adding hundreds of investigators to the staff of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and prohibiting companies that have been convicted of wage theft from receiving federal contracts… read the entire article.

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In the video below, Derrell Odom who works for KFC describes how he was robbed of overtime pay.

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