April 04, 2015
(SEATTLE, WA.) — The City of Seattle and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division have agreed formally to share information and coordinate enforcement efforts to combat wage theft, a major problem across the U.S. and an even bigger problem in low-wage industries.
“A Memorandum of Understanding – the first signed by the Wage and Hour Division with a city in its western region – aims to boost the Seattle Police Department’s ability to investigate alleged wage theft cases and, when warranted, forward them for review by the City Attorney’s Office,” according to a Seattle Police statement.
In 2011 the City Council made wage theft – the intentional failure to pay or underpay an employee for work – a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Wage theft is the illegal withholding of wages or the denial of benefits that are rightfully owed to an employee. Wage theft, particularly from low wage legal or illegal immigrant workers, is common in the United States, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports.