Wage Theft: Labor Workers Earn Below Minimum Wage

The issue of workers not being paid in accordance with hours they put in is a big problem in our society.

Wage theft in our present society is one of the labor violations low wage labor workers have been facing. Many of the workers don’t get paid what they have earned. By honoring the contributions of workers in our nation, structural racism and practically stealing labor shouldn’t be the way to show appreciation for their hard work.

The presence of wage theft is made up of limits in oversight, legal loopholes, institutional and structural racism people of color endure. The UCLA Labor Center has defined wage theft as the unlawful practice of not paying workers for all their labor, which comprises of not paying minimum wage and the need for workers to work off the clock.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which was signed into law by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1938 is the foundation of current labor laws in America. The establishment of minimum wage and overtime pay are among the obligations of the FLSA. When it was first put into law, traditional Black labor sites in the fields and homes were excluded from the protection of the FLSA. It was only modified to cover most farmers and domestic workers in 1966 and 1974 respectively, after persistent protests by women’s rights and civil rights advocates.

“The country is experiencing a wage theft epidemic of staggering proportions,” the National Employment Law Project illustrated. Taxi drivers, for example, aren’t entitled to overtime pay even though a majority of them work extra hours. Restaurant workers, who earn far below the federal minimum wage, are classed at “tipped earners,” because it is believed that the tips they receive are enough to fill the wage gap.

The vulnerability of undocumented labor workforce, which highly consists of people of color, can’t be overstated. Most of them are in low-skill and low-wage jobs. According to the Economic Policy institute (EPI), workers of the undocumented workforce lose $50 billion annually to wage theft.

Labor Day was celebrated a few days back, but it should be a celebration for all the labor force and not a few, as the wage inequalities in our society are stark. Economic security for the most vulnerable workers in our society should be boosted and curbing wage theft should be of precedence.

Source: ColorLines

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