Federal lawmakers seek to crack down on wage theft

By Mark Gruenberg, Press Associates Union News Service
August 20, 2017

WASHINGTON

Saying too many bosses steal workers’ wages, congressional Democrats introduced legislation to crack down on wage theft, through stiff fines, enabling worker class action suits, and, in the worst cases, threats of criminal prosecution.

The measure is designed to particularly help low-wage workers, the lawmakers said. But overall, citing Economic Policy Institute data, they said employers steal at least $15 billion yearly from workers.

“Today, across the country, many people are putting in long hours on the job and working hard for an honest day’s pay, only to have their employers cheat them out of their wages,” said Senate co-sponsor Ed Markey, D-Mass.

“While the vast majority of employers do the right thing and treat workers fairly, too many others force their workers to work off the clock, refuse to pay workers the minimum wage, deny workers overtime pay even after they work more than 40 hours a week, steal workers’ tips, or knowingly misclassify workers to avoid paying fair wages.

“This bill will strengthen fundamental protections to allow workers to get the money they have earned through hard work and it will crack down on the corporations that subject workers to these abuses. These steps will help ensure our country can work for all Americans, not just the wealthiest few, so our economy grows from the middle out, not the top down,” he added.

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