Wage-theft enforcement needs a shot in the arm

Advocates push for a crackdown, but cite estimates based on a survey done five years ago

November 17, 2015
By Rosa Goldensohn

Despite a law meant to keep employers from underpaying workers, wage fraud is “pervasive” and requires more regulation, a new report argues.

The study cites 11 individual cases that have occurred in New York since the state law in 2010 to supports its assertion that additional reforms are needed.

But in an attempt to show the statewide scope of the problem, the report extrapolates data from a survey of workers by a workers-rights group in 2010, before a state law passed that year to prevent wage theft had any effect.

Roughly 2.1 million New Yorkers lose $3.2 billion to wage theft annually, including more than $1 billion last year from pay that is less than minimum wage, according to a report to be released Tuesday by the Center for Popular Democracy and based on the worker-advocacy group National Employment Law Project’s study five years ago. Just a fraction of the $23 million in underpayments to 12,700 workers in 2013 was returned, the new report said.

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