The tenuous economic climate has led to quite a few changes in labor practices. As unemployment has increased over the year, wage theft has also increased as some unscrupulous employers attempt to hold back pay from employees. There are many ways that employers engage in wage theft. Budget cuts, lowered labor standards and nationwide changes in many industries have led to rampant wage theft.
Protecting Earned Wages
It’s no wonder why companies choose to misclassify workers as independent contractors. A 2019 report showed that companies that engage in this unlawful practice could save up to 48.1% of their labor expenses. The result is that wage theft has reached ‘epidemic’ proportions in Washington, D.C. Here are some of the emerging trends around wage violations:
- Depending on the local unemployment rate, up to 22% of low-wage workers can expect to be paid below minimum wage.
- An average of 20% of hourly employees lost 20% of their wages.
- Non-citizens saw their rights violated much more than citizens. This occurred at a rate of 114% more than citizens.
- The trends show gendered violations with women have a 43% greater likelihood of wage theft.
- Non-citizen people of color experienced the highest occurrence of minimum wage violations.
The risks for low-wage workers
Lower wage workers suffer from an elevated chance of not receiving wages, especially in high unemployment times. Minimum wage violations represent an increased number of these wage violations. A case in Washington, D.C. showed that workers were paid below minimum wage without overtime for construction work under a substantial general contracting company. Foreign-born workers reported discrepancies in their paychecks but worried about retaliation from their employers. Now those workers are part of a class-action lawsuit against the company.