The Fight Against Wage Theft

by Chaz Bolte
March 8, 2016

In some instances, simply being a community advocate for local workers’ rights is what it takes to further establish the IUPAT positive force, and a way of life, for local residents.

Wage theft, the illegal practice of not paying workers for all of their work by violating minimum wage laws, not paying overtime, denying them breaks and making them work off the clock, is a major problem in the United States.

According to a study for the National Employment Law Project, the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and the Center on Urban Economic Development:

  • Fully 26 percent of workers were paid less than the legally required minimum wage in the previous work week.
  • More than a quarter of respondents worked more than 40 hours during the previous week. Of those, 76 percent were not paid the legally required overtime rate by their employers.
  • Women were significantly more likely than men to experience minimum wage violations, and foreign-born workers were nearly twice as likely as their U.S.-born counterparts to have a minimum wage violation.
  • Foreign-born Latino workers had the highest minimum wage violation rates of any racial/ethnic group. But among U.S.-born workers, there were significant race differences: African-American workers had a violation rate triple that of their white counterparts.
  • Some 86 percent of respondents worked sufficient consecutive hours to be legally entitled to at least one meal break during the previous week. Of these workers, more than two-thirds (69 percent) received no break at all, had their break shortened, were interrupted by their employer, or worked during the break-all of which constitute a violation of meal break law.


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(Click here to view PDF of Study)