Billions stolen in wage theft from US workers

375 points2
spamizbad2 days ago

This phenomena is pretty widespread in the service industry and I would venture to say that a significant minority of businesses participate in some version of wage theft.

For example, one of my jobs right out of high school was waiting tables at a local restaurant. If you were opening, the expectation from owners and management was you'd get in early to help open but would wait 15 minutes before service started before clocking in. So on those days you'd do 30-45 minutes of fully unpaid labor. There was well understood that if you complained about this not only would they fire you but they'd call up all their industry buddies and you'd basically be on every other restaurants no-hire list. At the time I was pretty naive and didn't think much of it, just figured that's the way the world worked. Doing the math, because I always made more than the tipped minimum wage, I think it only ended up costing me $7/week in wages - but if I stole $7 out of the till each week for a year in a half I'd be charged with a felony.


I had a manual labor job when I was 16 that my parents wanted me to get to build some character. A night a week or so and one shift on the weekend. The need for labor was dependent on customer demand on a given day and weather and fluctuated greatly. Practice was so show up and wait around in the break room until it was busy enough that you were needed, and then people would be called in order of arrival. So some people would wait around hours to even find out if they might work that day.

I did it a couple times and found it so demoralizing I quit. Later I found out that practice is very illegal.

nonrandomstring2 days ago

You think the construction industry is illegal. Wait till you hear about academia!! :)

This is the life today for zero-hours, at-will employment in the university sector. As a visiting professor I've had universities ask me to deliver a semester course a year in advance, and call the week before to say they're not running it. At the very minimum a 12 week course takes 40 hours of preparation even if you're just refreshing the notes and practicals from last time.

I've had Russell group universities not pay me for two years. They've flat out "lost" my invoices, three times! Two major league universities tried to stiff me out of over £2000 and had to be threatened with legal action. One London uni asked me to prepare a DSP course, then instead of hiring me to deliver it plagiarised my slides, took my name off them and got a junior lecturer to deliver the course instead. The last university I worked at were so careless with my payments that my accountant advised me to "extricate immediately" because there so many "anomalies" she couldn't keep track of them all.

Universities are absolute f*king gangsters.

londons_explore2 days ago

Universities, unlike building firms, have actual assets and are unlikely to claim bankruptcy. That means you could easily take the above issues to small claims court as long as you had them in writing (and remember, even a agreement to pay you via email usually suffices - no formal documents or signatures required)

nonrandomstring2 days ago
asadotzler1 day ago

They have lawyers and you don't so expect this to be dragged out and expensive for you and your rewards, if successful, to not even cover the initial losses fully, much less the time and money of the suit. The big companies will always win. Better off suing the small construction company or building firm, as you're far more likely to be on even(er) ground with them.

ebiester2 days ago
Cheer21712 days ago

US academia has its problems, but UK academia is a whole different nightmare.

iinnPP1 day ago

Canada would like a word. When 35% of a test is easily verified as incorrect and nobody is willing to fix it.

Rain days.... Too cold days(-5°c)...

avgcorrection2 days ago

> not only would they fire you but they'd call up all their industry buddies and you'd basically be on every other restaurants no-hire list.

So like a much-dreaded union for employers except it’s underhanded and illegal.

ncallaway2 days ago

Yes, exactly.

And it’s underhanded and illegal when employers do it, because there’s an imbalance of power between employee and employee.

Unions exist to even out that balance of power. When employers engage in that kind of activity it further increases the imbalance of power.

For example, in this case, they were using that tactic to support their ability to steal from employees.

mjburgess2 days ago

To clarify this further:

The employer is already a collective, "A business", and the hiring manager is operating with the full power of that collective in hiring/firing negotations.

A union is a collective to balance power against the business (collective).

A cartel is a collective of collectives (ie., a group of businesses) operating to defeat free market competition regulation, in this sense the cartel is balancing power against the state -- which is the only permitted "collective of collectives".

Cartels challenge states (power to create free markets), whereas unions challenge businesses (power to hire/fire).

This is why unions are permissible and cartels are not.

dmoy2 days ago

"Cartels of unions" or whatever are legal in some jurisdictions. See e.g. solidarity action / sympathy strikes.

Depending on the country, that varies from "totally illegal" to "well of course you're gonna solidarity strike, that's how it's done".

fallingknife1 day ago

> unions challenge businesses (power to hire/fire).

Which is kind of the problem with unions. If they stuck to negotiating pay levels while leaving businesses free to hire and fire who they see fit I think employers would be much more willing to work with them. Higher salary expenses are much less damaging to a business than not being able to fire incompetent workers.

phpisthebest2 days ago
BurningFrog2 days ago
Aurornis2 days ago

The idea of industry-wide "no-hire lists" is a bogeyman that bad employers use to control young employees who don't yet know any better.

At worst, you won't get a positive recommendation from an employer like this if somebody calls and asks. The idea that employers are busy maintaining "no-hire lists" and collecting names from all of their industry peers doesn't hold up, at least not outside of maybe weird small-town social bubbles.

avgcorrection2 days ago

Ah shame, shame, stupid low-experience employees just falling for some savvy bad-employer tricks.

But it’s not like the small-town social bubble of West Coast software development is a stranger to collusion. What was that thing again? Apple and some other giant tech companies colluding on wages? Well, it was on HN a few times at least. I don’t remember the details.

asadotzler1 day ago

Not true. I lived through the no-poaching agreements in Silicon Valley which is close and if that's not close enough for you, before that I worked in market research in Austin and we absolutely shared a no-hire list, and not just with our other branches, but among competing call centers.

There were two other companies we regularly swapped low-skill call center workers with and the management teams of all three, I was on one, shared a list of disruptive and dangerous workers we'd had to fire and discouraged any of the three firms to hire. On our end, the list was in Lotus Notes and it was someone's job to make sure it integrated updates from the other call centers.

That was the late 90s and the list sharing started in the late 80s before I got there but it was one of the thing you learned about when you got promoted to management, check the list before the interview!

I started out on the phones and had many friends still on the floor when I got promoted, so learning about the list was a little bit disturbing, but the names I recognized on it from my time in our call center, had been escorted out by the police or carried out by EMTs.

That firm was wild. We literally took on 20 guys from the child sexual abuse convict halfway house to work the phones. Only half made the cut after the trial period and only three of them stayed on more than a few months, and those three were quite good, one making the "CEO" team which was the highly capable group that could hold a CEO on the phone for a 45 minute interview about, for example, printers and multi-function devices conducted on behalf of Dell Computers to see if they were making any headway eating into HP printer sales or whatever.

My point is that back in the '90s lists you say don't exist absolutely did. I not only knew of one, I used it, added to it, and I have every confidence that two other companies employing the same kind of people were using it as well.

hobotime2 days ago

Can confirm. There's no "no-hire lists" in the heavy construction, restaurant, and IT companies that I've seen.

However, in a small town, business owners may warn each other, and in a small bubble of companies, they may talk to each other.

And if you need a reference, better pick a fellow employee. Other than that, ignore the boogeyman!

asadotzler1 day ago

Austin TX was not a small town in the 90s and my company and two others who used the same kind of employees (call center workers) that were in slightly different industries (surveys, sales, political) regularly shared a list of workers we'd fired and we believed should not be hired.

For my part, the fired workers that were added to the list had been escorted out by police or wheeled out by EMTs after causing property damage and physical harm to other employees. I didn't think much about it at the time. I was young and foolish and happy to have been promoted off the call center floor into management.

I think the list had started a decade earlier for sharing across sister companies. My local company had been acquired by a larger foreign company which had several US subsidiaries in similar businesses, one of which was just the other side of the river from us. I think they first shared the list amongst themselves which despite them being different companies, is almost "internal", but eventually they started sharing it with another Austin business with a large call center over on Mopac that shared a bunch of workers across different shifts. They'd work for us during the day calling businesses and work theirs at night calling residential. Then a third company joined and I wouldn't be surprised if they shared it even more broadly after I left, but by then I suspect most of the phone workers in Austin were covered at that point.

Lalabadie2 days ago

But with enough lobbying, it _could_ be legal!

(This to point out that most lobbies are to employers what unions are to employees)

avgcorrection2 days ago

They’re just voting with their (fat) wallets!

joncrocks2 days ago

I think the word is Cartel.

ToucanLoucan2 days ago

If you want to demonstrate to someone why the legal system is designed for the wealthy and not the common people, I don't think you can do better than the entire subject of wage theft. Wage theft utterly eclipses every other form of larceny in the United States at least, and it is practically legal in every way apart from the letter of the law. Few companies ever see any consequences at all, and the few that do, it's fines here and there. No criminal liability. Certainly no SWAT teams raiding gated communities daily to haul off white collar criminals the way they'll roll out and obliterate an entire home (sometimes even the correct one) to catch someone selling weed.

The societal impact of this crime cannot be overstated. Billions of dollars stolen from workers, practically free of consequence.

TheCleric2 days ago

Exactly. How many hand wringing articles have we seen in the past few years about roving bands of shoplifters vs how many about wage theft?

hasty_pudding2 days ago

Most companies dont pay many taxes either.

billy99k2 days ago
Jensson2 days ago

> Wage theft utterly eclipses every other form of larceny in the United States at least

If you define being late with payments as theft, then I'd bet that rent theft is way larger than wage theft. I don't see why you would say that it is theft when you are late with payments to a worker but not theft when you are late with payments to a company.

If being late with payments isn't theft, then "wage theft" isn't theft, just like you missing to pay your rent one month isn't theft.

analog312 days ago

Rent is a contractual obligation and the remedy for late payment is built into the contract. Hardly comparable.

yardie1 day ago

Considering most rentals require a first, last, and deposit there is no theft. There is only failure to meet the terms of the lease.

uni_rule2 days ago
pertymcpert2 days ago

If being late with payments was theft then by far, far the largest form of larceny would be B2B. Late payments from businesses to vendors eclipses late rent. That's why there's an entire industry built around collecting payments, called factoring companies. That's why there are people hired as credit controllers to chase late payments.

Source: wife worked as a credit controller.

MeImCounting2 days ago
castlecrasher22 days ago
sixothree1 day ago

If you're late with rent, the police will show up when called.

madsbuch2 days ago

> > not only would they fire you but they'd call up all their industry buddies and you'd basically be on every other restaurants no-hire list.

An interjection: Under GDPR this is illegal. (Just a reminder that "tech" legislation sometimes also improve on broader levels)

dheera2 days ago

The US isn't subject to GDPR.

I see a lot of US websites with annoying GDPR popups and they really don't need to do that over here.

autoexec2 days ago

They don't need to do that over there either, unless they're doing something with cookies they don't need to be doing in the first place.

Workaccount22 days ago

I working in restaurants for years. They purposely go for high school kids because they know they don't know the law, and know that they will think walking out with $50 is awesome, even if they worked 6 hours.

BobaFloutist2 days ago

And then they get mad that the teenagers they made a point of hiring are irresponsible, unreliable, and have limited experience working. You know, teenagers.

phpisthebest2 days ago

I started working at 16, at a walmart.

I only called sick a handful of times, never was late, and did my job to the best of my ability. it is called work ethic. I started at $0.25 above minimum wage, as we given several raises, and position changes by the time I left at age 18, why because I was one of the most reliable teens they had, and they did not want me to go to another employer.

Some parents instill work ethic in their children even teens, sadly we do not have many good parents these days it seems like

and for the record, walmart never asked me and I never did work a single second off the clock...

lostlogin2 days ago

> Some parents instill work ethic in their children even teens, sadly we do not have many good parents these days it seems like

It turns out that there is a lot more to what makes a person than just the behaviour of their parents.

BobaFloutist1 day ago
sixothree1 day ago

I don't see what you "having responsibility" has to do with taking advantage of children?

Also I have to ask, and I mean this seriously. What did you do with the money from that job? Did it go into savings? Did you help with household bills?

ChrisMarshallNY2 days ago

Right after I finished tech school, and I was waiting for my first technician job, I worked for a friend's home remodeling contractor company for a few weeks. I was the "helper," so, naturally, I got all the shit work. The wages were minimum wage.

He kept jerking me around, paying fractions of what he owed me, then "forgetting" how much was left, etc. I probably ended up getting about a quarter or what I was owed.

This was a "friend" (note the quotes). I can only imagine what happens with the contractors that hire laborers from the side of the street, in the local hispanic district. Those chaps don't have any recourse (Unless you count the local MS-13 chapter).

I hear a lot of people tell me about the "wait to clock in" gig. Many of them "help themselves" to their employers' assets. I don't condone that, but I also don't condone their getting ripped off.

Large-scale, white-collar employers probably reap billions from stolen wages. My first job was hourly, and I made a lot of money over my standard wages (it was actually an honest employer -defense contractor, so they were audited with a proctoscope).

During my exempt career, I encountered all kinds of nickel-and-dime behavior. Those nickels and dimes add up to new Porsches in the driveways of senior managers.

hobotime2 days ago

Laborers on the side are paid daily, unless a lot of trust has been built up.

The most they'll be screwed is one day's labor. They're in demand because they work very hard, and they'll quickly find work.

awo34oaw4u2 days ago

And in academia. The University of Texas at Austin still owes me $14K in unpaid wages from 2017 where I was never paid for the classes I taught as a grad student. Unfortunately Texas has pathetically weak worker protections and the length of time you have to complain about wage theft is shorter than the length of time it takes the university to set up some payments, so by the time you realize you're not getting paid it's already too late to do anything about it.

madsbuch2 days ago

A danish labor union is currently suing for this. They have already settles on ~25.000 USD being paid out to one worker who was paid for 37 hours a week but according to his clocking in and out of the building area had worked up to 60 hours per week.

This is exactly one of the key responsibilities for labour unions to manage this interest on behalf of their members.

lupire2 days ago

The "industry buddies" but seems like a Boogeyman meant to scare people.

eterm2 days ago

That's exactly what it is, but the kids they employ don't know better.

The idea that there's a cabal of restaurant owners who get together to discuss in detail how they're breaking the law and maintain a blacklist is absurd when you stop to think about it.

But they're more than happy to let those kind of rumours keep doing the rounds to scare the naive young people into not sticking up for themselves.

TheCleric2 days ago

I think there’s one way this might work. To get hired at the next place they might want you to have experience. So you put your prior employer on the application, the new restaurant checks your references and mysteriously decides to pass on you.

tomatotomato372 days ago

Yeah the closest your going to get to a restaurant cabal are owners gossiping at the local wholesaler while waiting for their purchase to be processed, and even then there's a 50/50 chance a member of them is lying in order to bait a competitor into making a bad hire

notdang2 days ago

It might be funny, but in Mexico it's done differently.

There are Whatsapp groups of HRs working in a particular group (tech, construction, etc.) where they communicate. Obviously they don't discuss the names openly but they do ask if someone is willing to give feedback on a candidate that worked at XY.

1234letshaveatw2 days ago

right, can you imagine some low level restaurant manager going over a list of potential hires that are still in high school with some managers from a couple of other restaurants? How many even bother to perform reference checks? It is a empty threat from a impotent person

CityOfThrowaway2 days ago

Yes, and in my experience the lore around both the vileness and power of the owner is fully invented by the staff.

In many cases it's just teenagers being dramatic and coming up with external reasons why they are dealing with suboptimal conditions and not asking the owner about it.

phone86753092 days ago

Are you willing to risk extended unemployment and potentially homelessness in order to call that bluff?

WillAdams2 days ago

Wait until it's automated:

CalRobert2 days ago

Maybe it's every industry. My wife was told she needed to be sitting at her desk ten minutes before clocking in when she worked at Accenture "so the computer could warm up"

alkonaut2 days ago

An anonymous tip and a few inspections of staff logs and payrolls would make it pretty easy to make this disappear. The problem is that these sort of things (what regulations exist, whether authorities prioritize enforcing them) seems to always be answered with "no, because it's a poor people problem".

It's unfair competition though, so it's really important that this doesn't happen. A restaurant that wants do to the right thing shouldn't have to worry about a few % worse competitiveness on wages because the asshat across the street has his staff work for free.

If something like this earned you a $10k fee the first time and a 5 year ban from running any kind of business in the state if you repeat it, I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem.

worsethanthat2 days ago

> The problem is that these sort of things[...] seems to always be answered with "no, because it's a poor people problem".

It's not just that. There are people that will outright deny that it's happening. The reasoning trotted out is that if it were true that this were happening then it would be squashed. In other words, if it were happening, then it would not be happening. From the article:

> According to a 2018 report by Good Jobs, between January 2000 to 2018, Walmart paid over $1.4bn in fines and settlements over wage theft violations, FedEx paid over $500m during the same period, and Bank of America paid over $380m.

Sans data about Walmart's $1.4bn in fines, they'll reason to themselves that Walmart, even if it's not somewhere they personally would ever shop, is a reputable company, therefore this isn't something that happens at Walmart.

I have experience firsthand (from a low spot in my life) that FedEx continues to do the same thing, especially to people who are powerless to do anything about it. To wit:

Their warehouse workers get paid low wages and the arrangement is that you need to be available between 4:00 AM and ~10:30. It's not that you'll be working during those hours. No, instead what happens is the night before they determine how high of a load they have and then set the hours for that time. So you as a worker call in at around 9:00 PM the night before, listen to a recorded message that states e.g. "On Tuesday, February 13, package sorters will begin work at 5:30". So far not so good, but there's nothing especially illegal about this is as far as I know. (It stretches morality and ethics, however.) What is illegal as I understand it is incidents where they tell you to report to work at that time, people show up, and then find that the timeclocks are papered over with a sign saying not to clock in because there was an issue at the warehouse overnight and the systems aren't running, so they've moved the clock-in time ahead 45 minutes to when they expect the systems to be up and running. You are expected to wait there off the clock despite not being paid and being expected not to leave.

pixl972 days ago

> if it were happening, then it would not be happening.

Note that this is US law enforcement in general. The "if middle america were using drugs at the same rate of inner cities then we'd see arrest rates at the same levels" argument we here. While studies show that drug use is similar between these groups, enforcement in cities, specifically against minority groups is much higher.

plasticchris2 days ago

Indeed the overdose data seems to indicate a worse problem in rural areas, with West Virginia topping the per capita OD rate:

nickpsecurity2 days ago

“Their warehouse workers get paid low wages and the arrangement is that you need to be available between 4:00 AM and ~10:30. It's not that you'll be working during those hours. No, instead what happens is the night before they determine how high of a load they have and then set the hours for that time. ”

One of my buddies said they did this to them. I don’t know how common it is but it does happen. They were satisfied with their pay, though, compared to what many jobs in the area offered.

marcus0x622 days ago

> An anonymous tip and a few inspections of staff logs and payrolls would make it pretty easy to make this disappear.

And culturally treating it like any other theft: a crime that should subject the thief, in a practical sense, to the risk of imprisonment.

sneak2 days ago

Property crimes are rarely enforced against the ownership class. Law enforcement in the US exists to enforce the social order and class structure; they have no legal obligation to investigate or prosecute crimes.

The system is working as intended.

baq2 days ago

Always has been.

Government is quite literally a criminal organization except it was decided by someone (people, representatives, a monarch, whatever) that this particular one is not criminal and any others like it are, within self-described boundaries.

It might or might not be doing criminal things (as in, things we associate with criminal), but it wants and needs a monopoly on those things, otherwise it risks dissolution by internal and/or external forces. It’s thus obvious it’ll prioritize protecting the mafia bosses/sovereigns/elites and thugs/enforcers.

marcus0x622 days ago

That's why I described it as a cultural, not a legal problem.

pierat2 days ago

In reality....

If you steal $100 worth of food from a store, they'll call the cops and arrest you.

If the store steals wages from you in the tune of $1000+, <POOF> its a.... CIVIL MATTER (waves hands).

phone86753092 days ago

> If you steal $100 worth of food from a store, they'll call the cops and arrest you.

And if you're a person of color, if you try to pass a counterfeit $20 bill (unclear if you even know it's counterfeit) then the police just murder you and the person in charge of it gets a cheesecake sentence

cscurmudgeon2 days ago
avgcorrection2 days ago

> It's unfair competition though, so it's really important that this doesn't happen. A restaurant that wants do to the right thing shouldn't have to worry about a few % worse competitiveness on wages because the asshat across the street has his staff work for free.

The true crime is as always the impact on businesses.

vundercind2 days ago

I think it’s worth calling out that failing to enforce regulations corrodes entire industries to the point that it’s impossible to compete in many sectors of it without breaking the law and screwing over workers (and maybe also customers!)

It’s a way in which this is bad that folks may not immediately connect to it.

RHSeeger2 days ago

> The true crime is as always the impact on businesses

It's hard to tell if you meant this as sarcasm or not, but... it really is a big deal. If all your competitors are screwing their employees in order to increase their margins, that means they can out-compete your on price. Which means you can either screw _your_ employees.. or risk going out of business. And eventually, the only players left are the ones that are screwing their employees.

So yes, if you want to look out for employees, then you need to look out for businesses by making sure everyone is following the same rules. That doesn't mean the businesses themselves are more important, just that their health is vital to the well-being of the employees.

avgcorrection2 days ago
lupire2 days ago

The Honest Employers Guild should sponsor investigations and lawsuits against the criminals to drive them out of business, like that company that buys anti-Tesla Super Bowl ads.

empyrrhicist2 days ago

Similarly, I worked for a restaurant in high school that abused tips to pay wages for non-servers. When I was hired I asked about tips, and was told "yep, you get tip share". It turns out "tip share" meant "you get a flat wage, and we pay for it using tips from the servers".

I turned down a job at a nice Italian place to work there because of that lie and a $1 difference per hour in the base wage.

mcv2 days ago

I honestly think managers responsible for this sort of thing should go to prison for it. That would end these sort of practices really quick.

But somehow companies seem to have more rights than people.

IG_Semmelweiss1 day ago

i think you are underestimating how competitive businesses are - someone knowing that a competitor is exploiting an illegal advantage , has all the incentive in the world to report that illegal business practice and shame that competitor.

You have to be operating in a very narrow niche or a very small community for illegal behavior to be the norm.

what most employees don't know is that this type of theft is often a smokescreen for theft by a manager or someone below ownership.

mention to owner anonymously, if no action, report the business that does this to you, put it on yelp, and move on.

antisthenes2 days ago

Amazing pettiness from the owners for what is essentially $10 worth of labor (or less)

spacecadet2 days ago

This sums up much of american rural small business... I started working at 12 and had many random jobs between 12-18 that were run by awful people.

Our family has a small farm, my parents didn't think we did enough of that and put me in a white van full of migrant workers at 12 years old (hey the 80s!) to go pick produce in a field all day... It was grueling work but I got a first hand account of migrant farm workers and the way they are treated.

vdaea2 days ago


Cheer21712 days ago

This logic validates any horrific human rights abuse, just as long as that abuse is an epsilon less horrific than what is happening elsewhere.

yareal2 days ago

That shouldn't be the bar. "Brutal but better than where you came from." Should still be unacceptable. Work should afford someone dignity and fair compensation, not simply be better than the worst conditions the worker has dealt with.

Cthulhu_2 days ago
wahnfrieden2 days ago
rightbyte2 days ago

I think some managers use petty potential conflicts to filter out people that are not naive, have a backbone or are not desperate enough to succumb.

A worker that does not put up with petty BS is surely less likely to put up with major BS (like wrongful termination when getting pregnant or whatever).

admissionsguy2 days ago

It adds up. Multiply by the number of employees by the number of weeks in a year by the number of restaurants owned by the total number of ways in which the employees are deprived of small amounts at a time.

sneak2 days ago

$10/week/employee adds up over decades.

Cthulhu_2 days ago

But is it worth the resentment from said employees? Having to deal with the revolving door of naive new staff that needs to be trained, get up to speed, then leaves again when they realize they're being stiffed or they can do better? It just doesn't feel sustainable.

Not to mention the chance that you'll be found out by the authorities; I want to believe the punishment for wage theft is much more than the savings. Of course, that depends on how many people report it and how much evidence can be retrieved I suppose.

wahnfrieden2 days ago
antisthenes1 day ago

It really doesn't.

Can't buy your way out moral bankruptcy with $10,400 over 2 decades.

havblue2 days ago

This is more of a shade of gray, but I think over-assigning side work is also a form of unpaid labor that managers allow to happen to their front house staff as well.

andrewoneone2 days ago

I worked at Texas Roadhouse as a kid and this was the norm even for a chain.

droopyEyelids2 days ago

I also experienced wage theft while waiting tables, and also thought 'thats just how it works'

As a server, aside from taking orders and carrying food, we had 'sidework' before and after our shift- stuff like cutting lemons into wedges for water, rolling silverware in napkins, refilling condiments, etc. That all needed to be done before/after clocking in. Additionally, if diners stayed late, our timecards were edited to reflect the hours we 'should have' been working.

And the last thing that bugs me the most, is that we were required to give 10% of our tips to share with the back-of-house employees like bus boys. The manager collected this money directly and there was no accounting or way to see how much of it actually made its way to the other employees. That pisses me off the most because it was so arbitrary and so completely in the control of someone who was already stealing from us.

RHSeeger2 days ago

> we were required to give 10% of our tips to share with the back-of-house employees like bus boys

The places I worked

- busboys were not back-of-house employees; they were out on the floor helping take care of tables (bussing them, refilling coffee, making deserts, etc).

- the wait staff gave the 10% (or whatever it was) directly to the busboys. And some to the hostess, and some to the bartender; basically all the client facing staff.

I have no memory of the owners doing anything dishonest to the staff (at any of the places I worked), so either I was blind to things, or there _are_ (were) some good ones out there.

Chris20482 days ago

> not only would they fire you

If they did so could you not bring up the suspicious timing with the labour board?

cool_dude852 days ago

Obviously every state is different, and all state labor departments do surely go after wage theft to some extent. But as an example, my state does not have a "department of labor" - too commie! Instead it's the Department of Economic Opportunity. So one might imagine how much effort they put into small-time wage disputes.

bena2 days ago

This is tangential, but part of the reason why I dislike talking to servers about the tipped minimum wage. Because it seems they deliberately don't want to understand the full context of the law. Or fully the type of work they are in.

What you are describing is typically called "side work". Basically work that is not directly related to waiting a table. Folding napkins, putting up chairs, moving tables, etc. Even in cases where the restaurant clocks in their workers for every minute they are doing work, servers complain about doing side work because "it costs them money". And they want the federal minimum wage during that time.

Which naively makes sense. But that's not at all how tipped wages work under the law. The formula is basically: (([hours worked] * [tipped minimum wage]) + [tips earned in pay period]) / [hours worked] = [hourly wage over pay period]

So if you work 10 hours in a pay period, that's $21.30. If you collected $51.20 in tips during that time, you made $72.50 or $7.25/hr (based on current federal minimum wage, obviously numbers are different for different areas where the minimum wage is different from the federal). The restaurant is in the clear. Even if you worked 5 hours doing "side work" and 5 hours waiting tables where you got $51.20 in tips.

Servers want to essentially prorate every minute they are not physically collecting a tip it seems. Worked an hour and every table stiffed you? They want $7.25 for that hour. Regardless of the fact that the previous hour they took in $20 in tips.

Serving is more akin to being an independent contractor. You need to make hay while the sun is shining. The fat sustains you through the lean. You look at your per hour over the aggregate, not counting every hour. It's why contractors charge the rates they charge. If you are only billing half the year, those billings need to support you through the other half.

Now, in your case, the reason they don't want you to clock in isn't to save $7 over a week. It's to up your average. Which is still wrong. Let's say at your current rate of collecting tips, you totaled $225 over 30 hours. That's $7.50. Restaurant doesn't owe you anything. Now, $225 over 32.5 hours (your low end over 5 days), that's only $6.92 / hour. The restaurant is short, not $7, but $41.28

And true, If you instead made $300 over those 30 hours, the extra 2.5 hours don't even matter to you. Your check wouldn't have been that different. But, it's money that's not coming from their pockets and it's really to push people near the bubble over their limit.

jpalawaga2 days ago

In the state of California, tips are a gratuity paid on top of minimum wage. This is also how it works in many other states, in Canada, and in many countries around the world.

So you earn $16/hr for all time you’re at work, plus tips.

Which is how it should be. You’re being employed. Those tips are for the employee, not a gratuity for the owner to offset their costs.

“Tipped wages” are just another form of theft, bought by the restaurant lobby.

RHSeeger2 days ago

> In the state of California, tips are a gratuity paid on top of minimum wage. This is also how it works in many other states, in Canada, and in many countries around the world.

> So you earn $16/hr for all time you’re at work, plus tips.

This is not true. According to California Waitress & Bartender Minimum Wage Laws California Tipped Minimum Wage Laws for 2023, 2024 [1],

> California labor law allows tipped employees to be paid a lower cash wage than the standard California minimum wage by their employers, with different allowed tip credits applying to different classes of employer.

That lower amount is $11 or $12 per hour, depending on the size of the company (vs the normal $16/hour rate for non-tipped employees).

The numbers are lower for most (all?) of the rest of the country.


pixl972 days ago

No, this entire you're working for $2 an hour and hoping to earn tips shit needs to end.

>They want $7.25 for that hour. Regardless of the fact that the previous hour they took in $20 in tips.

Good. It is the companies job to pay the minimum wage rate per hour regardless of weather customer come in or not. If the restaurant industry cannot survive this they have no legal right to slave wages to survive.

reaperman2 days ago

They do have a "legal" and ethical right federally in the USA (some smaller jurisdictions have stronger rules but that's not typical). But perhaps you mean to argue they shouldn't have a legal right, or don't have a "moral" right. I have worked restaurants and believe that minimum wage should be meted out on a per-hour basis because of the way the current system mis-aligns incentives.

The restaurant owner is encouraged to keep the restaurant open much later than "profitable" hours because the cost of the additional late-night hours is only $2.13/hour per employee. So if even one table comes in during the 11PM to 1AM hours, that breaks even for the business. The business owner benefits from externalizing the true cost of staying open for those hours onto the employees. The workers end up working a lot of no-profit hours.

If they were making $7.25/hr then the incentives would be (more) aligned for them to keep working those hours.

But currently this is NOT a legal requirement. So your statement "they have no legal right to slave wages to survive" drips with hyperbole.

lotsofpulp2 days ago

> But currently this is NOT a legal requirement

It is in California, Oregon, and Washington. And probably a few other places in the US.

bena2 days ago
charcircuit2 days ago

>I think it only ended up costing me $7/week in wages - but if I stole $7 out of the till each week for a year in a half I'd be charged with a felony.

These are not comparable as working an extra 15 minutes is a consensual tranaction where getting $7 stolen from the business was an unconsensual transaction. A better comparison would be along for a $7 per week raise.

riversflow2 days ago

It's not really consent if you are being coerced by your employer.

stevespang2 days ago


dbingham2 days ago

One of the clearest illustrations of the deeply injust structural power imbalance at the heart of our economic system is wage theft.

If your employer withholds $20 from your paycheck it's a civil violation of contract law. You have to go through an extremely onerous and convoluted process that very likely won't go anywhere.

If, in response, you decide to pay yourself by taking $20 from the till, that's criminal theft. You will be arrested by the police, sent to jail, and charged in the criminal justice system.

crazygringo2 days ago

To be fair, it also works the other way --

If you withhold $20 from a bill payment, the worst that happens is collections. The company has to go through an extremely onerous and convoluted process that very likely won't go anywhere.

If, in response, a company employee decides to settle the bill themselves by visiting your home and stealing $20 from your wallet, that's criminal theft. They will be arrested by the police, sent to jail, and charged in the criminal justice system.

In the end, the imbalance isn't fundamentally one between employers and employees -- it's the fact that stealing is a very different situation than not paying money owed.

Of course it does benefit employers in the end, since they get to receive work now and pay later. Which makes you wonder why it's never become a thing for workers to receive their daily/weekly/biweekly wages or salary at the start of the period? In which case any wage theft would come from quitting the job before the end of the period.

remram1 day ago

> the worst that happens is collections

> (...) by visiting your home and stealing $20 from your wallet

You are being dishonest here.

Here's my version:

If you withhold $20 from a bill payment, the worst that can happen is having to pay an extra fee, getting a utility shut off, and a permanent hit to your credit score.

If you charge a customer an extra "service improvement fee" or "credit card surcharge" or a $400 "Mod Seq Other Qhp" (an actual line from a bill I have in front of me), they'll have to pay it.

crazygringo1 day ago

> You are being dishonest here.

That's entirely uncalled for.

My point was clear and, yes, honest.

Obviously there are additional complications in both directions. Yes, if you don't pay your electric bill of course it will eventually get shut off. But if an employer stops paying their employees they eventually quit. If you're late in paying there may be a fine. Courts also fine employers punitive amounts for non-payment of wages.

The situations aren't identical but my point stands that debt and stealing are different concepts and can go in both directions.

And random line items added to a bill have nothing to do with this conversation.

remram1 day ago
wahnfrieden2 days ago

Because business owners and politicians working for the economy decide that. It’s fun to come up with rules that would fix imbalance but curious how you think such rules can happen without deeper (however achievable) changes to society predicating them outside current norms (eg voting and waiting; maybe organizing around getting more people to vote and wait with you)

crazygringo2 days ago

Voters decide things too. But that's not just a hot-button issue for any voter I've ever met. Why not?

It actually wouldn't be too hard to implement without wage theft in either direction -- mandate some kind of escrow functionality by law, built into direct deposit.

In other words, if you work daily, the money is deposited in "escrow mode" at the start of your shift, and you can verify it in your banking app. But it's not released until you clock out. Or if your salary is every two weeks, it's deposited in escrow mode at the start of the period. At the end of the business day each day, a day's proportion is automatically released unless the bank is informed that your employment has been terminated.

But the point is that businesses could never try to save money by not paying their employees, because they couldn't get the money back anyways. If your boss doesn't approve that you completed the day's work when you actually did, the money stays in escrow until it gets settled by a court.

So I don't buy that it's just because business owners and politicians "decide" things. If voters wanted what I just described, it could easily happen. But I just came up with this proposal on my own -- I've never heard it described by anyone. It's not something voters seem to care about. Why not?

jodrellblank2 days ago
wahnfrieden2 days ago

Voters are also disenfranchised from other forms of coordinated action (which have historically caused many of the nice things we enjoy today) by the unresolved tension of belief in voting’s power and its routinely disappointing results

teeray2 days ago

Justice delayed is justice denied. There should be an express lane where you collect those wages from social security and employers just get an unavoidable tax bill.

nickff2 days ago

The 'express lane' would be rife with fraud, unless you re-implement a court system, in which case it'll be slow again.

teeray1 day ago

Right, but at least you’d be defrauding the federal government, which tends to be punished readily enough that there’s an actual deterrent.

greenie_beans2 days ago

that's because the state is designed to protect capital and not its citizens. we can use the process of government to change that.

erellsworth2 days ago

The government is run entirely by capitalists, so good luck with that.

greenie_beans2 days ago

yup. that's what needs to change first.

Zpalmtree1 day ago
alkonaut2 days ago

I wonder if there has ever been a case (I'm sure there has) where someone stole say a $20 from the register, because the manager owed them $20. And whether the fact they could prove the manager owed them money made any difference in the theft case.

crazygringo2 days ago

No, that's not how it works.

And thank goodness. In the same way, if you go to a restaurant and walk out without paying, but you've been there before and paid with a credit card, they're not allowed to go back and charge that credit card by the amount you stiffed them.

If you want your money, you need to go through the courts. You can't just take money you're owed, no matter if there's a debt or not. Not until a court says you can.

lotsofpulp2 days ago

This only makes sense if the courts/government are functioning properly and in a timely manner.

As the article points out, this is not the case, so the rational course of action is to do something else, as seen in less developed countries with lower societal trust.

teeray2 days ago

Courts generally take a dim view of “self help,” however just it may be.

anon2912 days ago

Well they shouldn't. Legislators should make recovery on debt for employees be self-service just like normal debt recovery.

Really there ought to be a pretty straightforwards system. You go to the local court showing your employment contract and proof of hours worked. Court contacts employer same day (could be automated phone system or e-mail) with X days to respond (ideally like 1 or 2). If no response, or no satisfactory response, you are given a certificate you can take to the business's bank to withdraw from their accounts directly, just like a wage garnishment. Why won't legislators think of solutions to such basic issues, instead of spending time on endless culture war nonsense? This seems like one of these things that ought to be 'easy.' Also allow for substantial interest penalties, like seven percent per day or something.

crazygringo2 days ago

I don't understand. This is what courts do, just not as fast.

If it were "self-service" as you suggest, it would be open to abuse of tons of people falsely claiming wage theft, to make an easy buck.

Companies can't be required to respond in 1 or 2 days. They need time to gather facts, especially when people can be out sick, busy with other work, etc. And they need to be able to present them to a judge and allow for cross-examination. Courts are designed to be fair and protect the rights of both sides, not to be fast.

Also I don't know what you mean about "normal debt recovery" being "self-service"? It isn't.

Cthulhu_2 days ago

Two wrongs don't make a right in the eyes of the law I'm afraid. That said, there's been plenty of cases where the punishment for a crime was lessened due to the circumstances, like assault in self-defense. Dunno if that applies to theft vs wage theft though.

That said, it's not a crime if you don't get caught. This too goes both ways.

alkonaut2 days ago

> Two wrongs don't make a right in the eyes of the law I'm afraid

Of course it doesn't. But you'd still think that the one theft couldn't be reprimanded by a court while the other was handwaved at the same time. What would be interesting wouldn't be if someone could get away with that (they couldn't, and shouldn't) but whether the fact that the matter was taken to court - presumably by the employer who was also guilty of a provable crime - led to any consequences for the employer.

anon2912 days ago

If I were on a jury, I'd acquit. I have been on a grand jury and did choose several times not to indict someone that didn't do anything wrong. Juries are the final check on government power and jurists ought to exercise that power appropriately.

devnullbrain2 days ago

There's a ~90% chance it won't even go to trial.

undersuit1 day ago

And take on my employer's responsibility to tax that $20 correctly? No thanks.

bena2 days ago

There are plenty of cases where this defense is used.

It's always treated like bullshit because it is. You don't get to decide how I settle my debts. If I owe you $20, you don't get to confiscate whatever you want of mine of what you deem is of equal value.


Not quite true, DOL will go to bat for you and fine the employer and get you paid. Violations of labor law are not simply small claims civil matters. Some employers get large fines.

dbingham2 days ago

The whole article is about how DOL mostly doesn't go to bat for people. Of $50 bil in wage theft, DOL recovered ~$3 bil.

brightball2 days ago

Ultimately dealing with the DOL will hurt the employer financially, but the employee probably won’t see anything from it.

The lawyers will though.

autoexec1 day ago
phpisthebest2 days ago

Often times it is due to the employee not properly documenting anything. They still have to prove they are owed the money. you cannot just go to the DOL and claim you owed something with no proof.

skort2 days ago

The problem is that when the fine is the "cost of doing business" nothing really changes. Criminal charges/jail time (i.e. holding people responsible for these violations) might help keep businesses in check.

MSFT_Edging2 days ago

I think the point is the employer simply gets a fine while the reverse would see criminal penalty. This lopsided application of the law shows it was rigged from the start. We should be holding managers and whoever gave them the order criminally liable.

iforgotpassword2 days ago

That's because in one case you're stealing from an individual, and in the other from a business. The former group is usually not well organized, uneducated wrt the according laws, and too scared to go against the guy paying them. Their discontent with the establishment is usually unleashed in the most nonsensical ways, like we saw during covid. Anti-maskers/-vaxxers had a disproportionate amount of people from these kind of low-skilled exploited jobs.

geodel2 days ago

Well a simple reason could be probability of person take money and disappearing vs institution/business withhold person's money and disappearing.

To be clear I am not defending it. If anything I was on receiving end of this behavior from a douchebag employer.

Chris20482 days ago

That's b/c they are entirely different situations. You can't "pay yourself" taking money from the till, it isn't pay, it's just theft you justify taking from the wages you believe you are owed. You are only owed those wages on the basis of a contract, and that contract won't allow you to take anything from the till.

Theft is "the dishonest appropriation of property belonging to another with the intention to permanently deprive the other of it". Not being paid isn't the same, no matter if you try to equate the two on a numerical basis.

It would be more accurate to call "wage theft" as "labour theft". But then, labour isn't as easily stolen outside a contract. The fact is, if you aren't compensated, you can stop providing labour, and any right to a wage usually has a contract associated that can be taken to court.

Someone stealing from a till can steal potentially unlimited amounts before an employer discovers it, and there may be no record proving what is missing.

It's not great how hard it is to recover unpaid wages, but there's no injustice in theft being criminal in comparison. Also, there are circumstances that contract violations can lead to criminal charges (e.g. fraud), but in general if a valid contract is in places, penalties are not criminal (e.g. monetary).

NegativeK2 days ago

What you're saying makes sense from a procedural sense, but the article pointing out that there's 50B in stolen wages means that the punishment for wage theft isn't aligned with what's needed. In fact, the power imbalance between employer and employee means that it's far harder to for employees to recover their wages or punish the other party -- which, to me, means that the state needs to do even more to help.

Chris20482 days ago

50B in stolen wages is an estimate. The devil is in the details, on how they came up with that number.

There is a power imbalance, there should be more done to take employers to court. I'd be more interested in the effect on long-term low waged employees, than temporary high-schoolers.

darth_avocado2 days ago

People thinking wage theft only affects lower wage workers, let me tell you how tech companies commit wage theft:

1. Having annual components to wages (RSUs, bonuses), making you work all year and firing you just before they have to pay you.

2. Having no overtime for salaried employees

3. Having employees work extra responsibilities that are not part of the job description by promising promotions and then not giving it to them

PenguinCoder2 days ago

The promise of salary work in America is such one sided bullcrap. Get paid the same amount of to get your work done no matter the time it takes. if it takes 6 hours or 12 hours, you'll get the same amount. But if you don't work at least 40hrs a week on salary, we're docking your pay. Oh but also, you don't get paid for any hours over 8 in a day. Salary!

strictnein2 days ago

> But if you don't work at least 40hrs a week on salary, we're docking your pay.

I've never encountered such a system in my 20+ years being paid a salary. What companies do this? Worked for two European firms (including one very large one) and two large American firms during that time. Is it something small companies try to do?

fnordpiglet2 days ago

It tends to be on the lower end of the salaried world and/or less desired employers. I think it’s also increasingly less common in general. But there are many companies that time clock their salaried professionals or require time sheets. For instance, as a higher end example, Goldman Sachs requires most employees to file a time sheet allocating their work to the nearest hour. The reality is people just put in 40 hours regardless, but depending on the line manager it can be more tightly controlled. In some operations roles where cost control is a big deal and hours are billed back to the upstream revenue producing departments, time sheets are scrutinized closely.

phone86753092 days ago

I worked for one of the largest firms in the US, and they required us to report our hours worked every week, docking us if we worked less than 40 hours.

therealdrag023 hours ago

What’s their name

fnordpiglet2 days ago

Salaried used to mean you were paid a certain amount for working there and there was no accounting for time, vacation, or sick. It was the pinnacle of professional work, included two hour three martini lunches daily, and the ability to harass the hourly pool in various ways.

Overtime and various other hourly worker protections led to more and more work being classified as salaried, and with it, a removal of the “perks” for most salaried people.

Generally the primary perk that still follows salaried work though is the concept of vacation, sick time, and benefits albeit rationed and beancounted now.

danaris2 days ago

To be fair, it can also work out the other way, if your employer is decent.

I'm on salary, and I'm only expected to get the work done that's on my plate, and respond to emails etc within a reasonable time frame (eg, if I get an email at 4pm on a Friday, and I don't respond to it till 11:30am Monday, that's fine so long as it's not an emergency).

If I get my work done and there's still time in the day, I'm not expected to invent busywork for myself.

But I do recognize that I'm extremely lucky to have the kind of conditions I do here.

bongodongobob2 days ago


pixl972 days ago

Ah, Hello Mr Crab Bucket. Instead of wanting the world to be a better place for everyone, you instead want it to lower to your level of suck.

square_usual2 days ago

This comes up every time and it's just as stupid every time. I'm sorry you went through a terrible experience being a musician. That doesn't justify other people going through terrible experiences.

bongodongobob1 day ago

I had a great experience as a musician, I made a decent living doing it. I didn't work too many hard or dirty jobs, just boring low skill jobs because I needed the flexibility.

Most IT/office jobs are comparatively gravy any way you slice it.

I'm just saying I have something to compare to rather than a lot of people here who probably interned at Google or MS and went off to make huge cash immediately.

InSteady2 days ago

Children are starving in Africa so Americans who miss a few meals have no right to complain. Try starving in Africa for a few weeks then you'll be begging to come back and resume living paycheck to paycheck. /s

manuelabeledo2 days ago

> Having no overtime for salaried employees

Or even worse, instating mandatory unpaid overtime.

I would love to see Pagerduty stats by job and position. I'm pretty sure the number of devs on 24/7 rotations is way higher than it should.

wehhhhhh2 days ago

They do it in more direct ways, too. You might be surprised how long some people will work with only the promise of future payment. You might be surprised how long someone can go on committing wage theft (and other general fraud) without repercussion.

I'm self-employed and have made it a standard practice to look up court records on any new client I'm considering to take on. It has been eye opening.

hnburnsy2 days ago

Add long 410K match vesting schedules to that list.

eesmith2 days ago

Don't forget illegal collusion to lower wages, like the one top Silicon Valley firms carried out 10 year ago:

vundercind2 days ago

I’m pretty sure a major reason for the current form of big tech interviews is to slow the rate of job-hopping, to suppress wage growth.

thaumasiotes2 days ago

> Having no overtime for salaried employees

This is just the definition of "salaried employee".

dopylitty2 days ago

The whole idea of salary is ridiculous. The FLSA needs to be fixed so that forcing workers to work 24/7 is explicitly banned.

This is particularly true for workers whose jobs are computer based. Companies think they can pay one shift of workers to keep the computers running 24/7. It should not be that way.

If a company wants its computing infrastructure running 24/7 it should pay for 3 shifts of workers. If not then shut down the systems at 5pm like any normal business.

Email/IM should also be disabled for workers who aren't actively on shift. Any expectation of monitoring email/IM/phone should be counted as work that requires payment and for which there is a maximum number of allowed hours a week.

ace322292 days ago

See the European Working Time Directive for a good example of how this can be enacted.

NB a lot of employers will ask you to sign a contract self-excluding you from its protections on your first day. ("it's not mandatory, we'd just like everyone to sign it :)" )

therealdrag022 hours ago

Got off the banning of crap, leave people choice. Most teams I’ve been on have had the option to control our own on call schedule. And every time we’ve picked 24/7 less often instead of “follow the sun” more often.

FireBeyond2 days ago

Yup. Used to work as an SRE, we were on-call 24/7 for PagerDuty (which, thankfully, wasn't horrific, but...). The company was "ramping up" for three shifts/follow-the-sun/whatever.

Over a year later, they were still "ramping up". Not a single interview had taken place, to the best of my knowledge.

charles_f2 days ago

I'm salaried, my contract says that I owe them 37.5h a week.

Surely if I'm doing my work in much less and stop working, I'm stealing. When I'm waking up at 2am to handle an incident and still have to clock in the day after, "that's part of the job".

Favors only go one way

robocat1 day ago

There's a term Employers use: "time theft". For the time that employees were paid for but didn't do work.

Plenty of good examples:

therealdrag022 hours ago

I’ve never “had to clock in the day after” without taking my own time to make up for after hours calls. Maybe I’ve just gotten lucky but seems obvious to me. Usually managers will say “take the day off” if the night was bad.

Arisaka12 days ago

Not saying that I disagree with the definition but most companies aren't happy when I have to leave the office earlier to visit a doctor and will expect me to work until the 40 hours are met.

So while the legal definition is true that I get paid a fixed amount "regardless of work hours" the societal expectation is that I'll meet the 40 hours, 40+ makes me a "work hard, play hard", and everything under is me being lazy regardless of whether I hit my productivity goals or not.

I once closed my Microsoft Teams off 15 minutes earlier than the expected and my manager was telling me to inform her next time that I'm leaving, and I work from home. Micromanaging at its finest.

darth_avocado2 days ago

Right, but it’s still wage theft when you make people work twice as much because they’re “salaried”.

lupire2 days ago

How are they "made"? These are highly paid employees earning market rates.

NegativeK2 days ago

I think you're saying that salaried employees are exempt from overtime, which is not true (in the US).

Everyone is eligible for overtime if they're paid hourly. Certain classes of jobs are exempt from overtime if they're salaried. For example, an Amazon warehouse can't make a picker salaried and then demand free overtime hours. has the breakdown of can be overtime exempt. As a couple of examples, blue-collar workers and first responders can not, in general, be overtime exempt.

wahnfrieden2 days ago

These are legalized forms of wage theft, the article is about the illegal forms. But yes the legal ones are just as unpleasant

jmclnx2 days ago

Maybe, but I know of a case where a contractor for a fortune 500 company working in IT had I think some of his salary stolen (in Texas).

The company released the contract and he was put on the bench working for the contracting firm on their projects. They would pay him once per month. They fired him after a few months, not pay him is back pay.

He filed a claim with Texas, nothing was done. When he told me (a year or 2 later) I said he should file with the Federal Gov, but he did not want to.

So it can happen in office work too.

hackerlight2 days ago

Verbal promises about a promotion/payrise and then pulling the rug is also common.

SantalBlush2 days ago

"Times are tough" is a refrain I've been hearing from employers since the 2009 recession. Somehow the economy is never good from an employer's point of view--just varying degrees of bad--so they can never afford those raises they promised.

tootie2 days ago

That's not theft. It's not even really unethical. It's well-understood that the value of RSUs is not guaranteed. Nor is bonus pay. For one, this kind of comp only typically applies to people earning a base salary way above the median and that anyone accepting comp in terms of company or personal performance is willingly signing on to accept the risk.

fnordpiglet2 days ago

Usually equity compensation is in lieu of base salary, so the base salary is often below median for comparable work at a comparable company that doesn’t offer equity. For instance Amazon is famous for offering absurdly low base salaries relative to their talent competitors. Wall Street is famous for this too. However bonus based compensation is outsized, often to account for the risk.

The problem comes with laying people off in December prior to bonuses. You’ve taken a year of work under the presence of a bonus compensation and then yanked the rug out after squeezing every last ounce of work from a year. They could of course just not pay a bonus, but often internal compensation guidance requires proving a fireable performance problem while layoffs just require basic reporting to labor departments.

Calling this theft is extreme, but it’s definitely ripping employees off and treating them badly. The imprudence mismatch is that the employee is much less able to afford the shenanigans than the employer benefits, and a year of an employees career is a much larger share of total lifetime earnings than the corporations benefit as a percentage of its total lifetime revenues (or compensation expenses as the case may be). This makes it wrong, but not illegal.

darth_avocado2 days ago

It is theft; it is definitely highly unethical; RSUs are guaranteed pay; doesn’t matter if salary is above median; willingly signing a contract because companies have better bargaining power doesn’t make it right.

tootie2 days ago

The above comment said specifically they are end-of-year grants. That's a bonus and it's never ever guaranteed. Fired or not, they can just say "no bonuses this" and it's 100% the employer's prerogative. Happened to me plenty of times in down years. Not to mention, stock is inherently volatile so 1000 shares can be worth an arbitrary amount.

sneak2 days ago

Any promises not made in writing and signed by both parties aren’t promises. None of these are theft, just poor business skills on the part of the employees.

Get it in writing so you can sue later, or don’t ever count on it. It’s basic business skills.

darth_avocado2 days ago

> It’s basic business skills

Job offers are often take it or leave it, because of the inherent power dynamics in the industry. These “basic business skills” will essentially leave you out of a job.

lupire2 days ago

So? Taking the job blocks someone else out of it. Both are good people, so overall it doesn't matter who gets the job. The root of the problem lies elsewhere.

fnimick2 days ago

What a terrible world to live in, where you can lie to your employees and as long as it's not in a contract, they deserve it for not having the "business skills" to know you could get away with lying.

lupire2 days ago

Oral contracts are legally enforceable.

Your claim is that any crime where the evidence is destroyed isn't a crime.

bongodongobob2 days ago

Only if you can prove the conversation happened which is almost never the case.

pixl972 days ago

>Oral contracts are legally enforceable.

I once heard a judge say "An oral contract is worth the paper it is printed on".

It may be enforceable if there is a bunch of corroborating evidence that multiple people were told this and are willing to testify in court to that case. But you'll find, especially in right to work states, getting people to speak against the company is difficult.

Hikikomori2 days ago

Scams shouldn't be illegal as you're stupid if you get scammed, just get smarter idiots.

elzbardico2 days ago

The standard civil courts pipeline sucks as a mechanism for labor rights protection. You'll need expedited courts and a speedier process to dissuade this kind of thing. It needs to be as straightforward as child support law.

giantg22 days ago

"You'll need expedited courts and a speedier process to dissuade this kind of thing. It needs to be as straightforward as child support law."

All courts are backlogged, many for years. Even "simple" issues can easily take 6+ months.

Child support law isn't that straightforward. It generally isn't even tied to the actual costs to raise the child. It's also rife with abuse for things like unreported income, misusing the money, etc.

zdragnar2 days ago

My wife took a former employer to small claims court. It was as straight forward as it gets.

anon2912 days ago

Unfortunately, not enough people know about small claims court. I agree.. It's very easy. My dad had several cases in it when some contractors really messed up our house. Very quick resolution.

wahnfrieden2 days ago

> “The process for filing a wage-theft complaint form is very onerous and cumbersome, so there’s an immediate obstacle in the process itself. But once that form is filed, it takes months if not years for the department of labor to even investigate it.”

kadoban2 days ago

It's different if you're just trying to get what you're obviously owed (especially if small-claims covers it) vs trying to stop the employer from pulling the same shit over and over.

zdragnar2 days ago

The department of labor doesn't make you whole. It investigates failure to adhere to regulations.

If you are owned money, go to small claims court. If a thousand employees are owed money, the time spent for the company becomes painful indeed, and these court cases will raise the notoriety of the company in the department of labor's view.

Even so, the department of labor has it's own procedures it has to follow to make a fair investigation.

dr-detroit2 days ago

So we have here an anecdote vs. a biased narrative hmmm

jenny912 days ago

I actually think this is a great idea (though very hard to implement). We have special courts and systems for different things, it would be a great idea to have courts dedicated to just resolving employer-employee disputes.

wahnfrieden2 days ago

There's no voting solution to gaining that unfortunately

danaris2 days ago

Well, not today.

But if this year you vote for candidates who are more favorable to labor than the other candidates, and then you continue making that (part of) your strategy over the course of several elections, you can start to shift things. Especially if you can get other people on board with the movement.

It's not like the current situation came about by chance or some cosmic inevitability: the right wing in America has been consistently showing up and voting in larger numbers for decades to get where we are.

wahnfrieden2 days ago

You would have happily voted for Hindenburg?

Labor wins that we have today have come from coordinated labor movements across partisan lines, not from voting and waiting on service from politicians

danaris2 days ago
sixothree2 days ago

It should be as easy as going to the police.

meltyness2 days ago

It is, it's a state-level thing, and that serves as a check on companies that scale to be national or international.

Makes lobbying over 50x more complicated.

The fact that a UK publication is on about it should be a clear signal that the authors are being influenced by an international interest would like to simplify the process.

Probably chipotle

Here's a page that lists like, a third of the state agencies, I guess, hope this helps! :

rsynnott2 days ago

> The fact that a UK publication is on about it should be a clear signal that the authors are being influenced by an international interest would like to simplify the process.

The Guardian has had an office in the US to produce local content for over a decade, now:

lupire2 days ago

Guardian is an Anglo left-wing activist journalism org. They aren't a corporate front. They report things the captured US media avoids.

yareal2 days ago

Going to the police is dangerous. Cops hurt people, both intentionally and unintentionally. Never ever talk to cops unless you are legally compelled to do so, and only then with a lawyer.

Getting the cops involved is like showing up with an assault rifle. Even if you intend that no one gets hurt, it's a a dangerous escalation.

sneak2 days ago

In America, going to the police isn’t that easy. They will issue you a police report number for your insurance claim, but they are under zero obligation to investigate or prevent any crime.

They’ve been quiet quitting across the country since the George Floyd protests and they are working less than ever. Police interventions have been going down, crime has been going up, but staffing and funding has been mostly flat. They’re just not doing their jobs because they know if they hold out, funding will increase.

Also sometimes they just kill you.

Even if I were a victim of a major crime I wouldn’t contact the police in the USA unless I needed a police report number for my insurance claim. They’re probably not going to do anything and they might make things a million times worse.

vundercind2 days ago

This predates the BLM movement and such.

I’m aware of maybe ten or so property crimes committed against friends, family, and employers, with damage and theft ranging from low-thousands (2024 dollars—some of these were decades ago) to $20k or so. I’ve never once known the police to do anything but scoff at the notion and treat you like an idiot if you go in thinking they’re going to investigate anything at all, no matter how much evidence is available.

And all the people concerned were/are white and middle class, for the record. Even then, nothing.

It’s one of the reasons I tepidly support the more extreme end of “defund”. Let fucking wal-mart or whoever’s getting actual value from the cops pay for them. Me and mine surely aren’t getting our money’s worth.

mrguyorama2 days ago

Indeed, "the cops won't do anything if you get robbed" is a meme among even the most conservative average people. Yet the "back the blue" support persists. Can you imagine if firefighters took your emergency call, never showed up, and still had half the country support giving them MORE funding and less accountability?

Hell, the clearance rate on murders is %50, and that includes a substantial chunk of people incorrectly found guilty despite the cops having DNA evidence that would exonerate them.

dr-detroit2 days ago


throwaway_wt2 days ago

At a previous employer, the employee handbook defined “wage theft” as failure to work the required number of hours as agreed defined in the employee’s contract.

I distinctly remember that the handbook used the term “wage theft” and not “time card theft” or “fraud”.

charles_f2 days ago

Yeah, I've seen something similar but they were calling it "time theft". Funny enough this company had a reputation for stealing time, so they'd know

draw_down2 days ago


andsoitis2 days ago

> Eventually Martinez and several of his co-workers left after not getting paid for four weeks of work.

If my employer fails to make even a single paycheck I would immediately be looking for another job because the chances are that it isn't that they're looking for free labor, but rather that they have cashflow problems. I am not interested to depend on a sinking ship for my income.

jt21902 days ago

When the cash flow of an income-generating investment changes, a disciplined investor will rebalance to reduce the risk to their portfolio to the desired level. For many people their job is their major investment.

FireBeyond2 days ago

Even above and beyond that. Worked for a company where the owner had admirably bootstrapped himself from working in a copier room at a law firm to owning a large copy/print/scan business that handled law firms in two cities and was a millionaire mid-late 20s.

Would give me my check (after repeatedly asking, though never "late"), and usually say something like "this will cash today, but if you can wait til Monday or Tuesday, I'd prefer that".

Hell no. I went downstairs within minutes every time and put that straight in the bank, and I did it over the teller (we banked with the same bank, so it was processed immediately).

rsynnott2 days ago

So, one thing that surprises me about this article is the lack of mention of the tax authorities. At least in this country, hell hath no fury like a tax authority which thinks it isn't getting all the payroll tax it's entitled to, and it's one of the easier types of evasion for them to go after. Why isn't the IRS chasing these employers?

mihaaly2 days ago

I believe it is a difficult to avoid byproduct of a competitive society (so basicly all). Contractors/suppliers compete with lower price that need to be balanced some way, employees compete with their willingness to work cheaper or more to have any kind of income at all sometimes. Some do it for greed only, employee and employer alike. I know someone, well paid construction engineer, who was willing to get into a shady situation so both his employee and himself can save on taxes, sharing financial gain of pretending non-employment relationship. This involved payment in bulk for months of work which at a financial downturn ended up in not getting paid - along multitude of exuses and promises - loosing almost 2 years of work worth of money for the engineer and the need to find someone else to work for in a desperate time risking the livelyhood of his family. Meanwhile his previous 'partner' in crime of course fluorished instead of sharing the loss too after the benefits. The engineer had no means to do anything being an accomplice for long, both dependent on the partner's payment but without any small means to put pressure on them. Exposed completely.

It is too easy to be smartass about someone else's life and situation but since individual employees are always more fragile than organizations the best to avoid extreme competition advantages like above and have reserves for situations when an organization stops paying - e.g. being on the brink of collapse - so one can have better position of pressuring by not working until payment arrives in parallel of looking for other possibilities in case the likely eventuality of loosing job comes.

Of course this is what is almost impossible to achive for most, especially for the most vulnerable: there will always someone to take the place of 'troublesome' employees, sometimes for less or offering more. As a product of desperation (in lack of reserves and possibilities but the need of buying food for the family). Shady figures exploit this. Unity against exploitation would help but we rather compete to raise above others.

mrangle2 days ago


Not paying for work.

Internships: some may be legit, most are slave labor schemes with many being deeply institutionalized in systems such as healthcare and education.

Lower than minimum wage with an expectation that tips will make up the difference (just be done with tipping, pay at least minimum wage, and raise food prices).


pitaj2 days ago

That is not the definition of slavery. Slavery is being forced to work.

vaidhy2 days ago

I would amend that slavery is being forced to work for a single person/corporation with a massive penalty for trying to change it.

mrguyorama2 days ago

The tipping thing is insane. I live in a rather progressive city, very pro labor. Many local restaurants have added small fees to your bill, often called something like "living wage fee" or something similar, the implication being it's a fee to help improve the wages the staff get.

Except it's a 3% fee! I'm paying $50 for steak, surely you can just freaking charge me $52 and pay the staff what they deserve?! Why all this nonsense around adding fees like you're the local cable company? You've spent more editing your printed menus to include this new disclaimer than it would cost to just pay your damn staff!

staticfish1 day ago

It's much more insidious than you let on. It's plain lying about the cost of the service (food in this case) so they get you in the door, then bait-and-switch you when you get the bill.

Just a hunch, but I'm guessing you live in Seattle. I've been noticing the same thing all over, and honestly it should be highly illegal.

DrNosferatu2 days ago

Not only in the US, I would say - in general - wage-theft is indeed the actual business model of most outsourcing/"consulting" businesses.

Seek a rent, sweat the asset: more and more business-as-usual today.

mbostleman1 day ago

The article starts with a scenario from commercial construction in which pay to workers was delayed at times and some ultimately never collected. The commercial construction industry can be a risky environment. I spent some time in this supply chain and the monthly billing to the owner was always a nail biting experience similar to a rocket launch. Is every sub billing for the right amount of labor and materials? Do we have evidence that materials delivered but not installed are on site and secure, or did some of it grow legs over the weekend? How is the owner's liquidity? Are the business drivers that justified the investment (eg. tenants) still a go? Because if not, the financing will pull out.

While the Guardian likes to imply that the first company upstream of the workers is a thief, the reality is far more complex. There might be some dealings that could be called theft but, before you get to those, you'd have to remove all the dealings that involve a risky chain of transactions that failed somewhere along the line.

chaosharmonic1 day ago

Worth noting that lawmakers in New York, where the focus of this piece is, recently unveiled a trio of bills[0] aimed at curtailing wage theft, effectively shutting down businesses that steal $1k or more from their employees.


PH95VuimJjqBqy1 day ago

When I was young my parents to my fathers employer to court for wage theft and won.

My mother always meticulously logged when my father clocked in and when he clocked out. All my life she did this.

At one employer they immediately noticed my father wasn't getting paid what he should be. So they let it rack up to a decent amount and took them to court. The judge took the years of time logs as proper documentation.

danielovichdk2 days ago

Thank tour union if you have one.

wahnfrieden2 days ago

> A bartender in Orlando, Florida who requested to remain anonymous because they still work in the industry, said they started a new bartending job in May and pushed back when they found out their hourly wage was just a daily rate of $30, despite working eight-hour shifts.

> “I reminded my manager that paying less than minimum wage was illegal, and added a link to a law firm’s page about it. He fired me,” the worker said. “Getting fired for not wanting to be paid below the already insanely low minimum wage after working in the industry for over 20 years was pretty rough.”

> The worker attempted to file a complaint with the US Department of Labor and the Florida attorney general’s office but was told they only prioritize higher wage violations and never heard back after being told someone would follow up.

Clubber2 days ago

Florida AG has unlimited funds for CYA but not to help the people who most need it. Figures.

Workaccount22 days ago


alkonaut2 days ago

Most of the factors are beyond your control when it comes to how busy a place is. Sure a smile helps fill a restaurant, but mostly - it's other people's responsibility. Anyone employed full time in an empty restaurant for a full month should both make a living wage AND have 40h work. If there isn't enough work to fill the shifts, or enough guests to make tips - that's not the service staff's problem, it's the owner.

Workaccount22 days ago

If you are working at a place that doesn't have volume for a month...thats on you. Restaurants are a dime a dozen and slow ones die quick. Getting a job at one is simply filling out an application and talking to the manager. It's very easy.

Sure, if you live in rural area maybe it can be tough, but if you are in the 80% who live in metro areas, the bar is very low to find a place(s) where you can do well.

alkonaut2 days ago

I guess waiting staff was always seen as a "gig economy" in the US. (Where I live, it's a salaried job, 3-6 months of notice from the employer and so on.)

yareal2 days ago

If you work, you deserve a living wage. Tipped labor sucks for a host of reasons, but even if you pick a "bad" restaurant you should still get enough money from your work to live.

fzeroracer2 days ago

What does any of what you just said have to do with their employer violating Florida labor laws? They have specific wages for both tipped and non tipped employees. The wage as mentioned above was well below the tipped wage line as defined by Florida law.

HumanReadable1 day ago

I am generally not very fond of unions, but prevent wage theft is a very important function Unions have historically done very well. If there ever was an argument for unions, better contract enforcement would be it.

Ccecil2 days ago

I know this is not the same thing but there is another form of what I consider wage theft that is totally legal in my state. That is the ability of an employer to pay almost half of minimum wage based on the fact that the employee gets tips.

In my state...Idaho...employees can be paid as low as $3.35 (if I am reading that correctly). I know many people local who worked under this law for many years. The town I am in it costs approx 2x the average "renters salary" to afford to live. We currently have constant "now hiring" signs on almost every building. One of the largest employers in the area uses this law to pay their people peanuts. The only ones who can afford to stay in this town are the ones who already had houses before the "doubling" that happened over the last 5 years...and often they are on edge too.

But you know..."Go ruthless capitalism".

rebuilder2 days ago

So what you do is you have a system where employees can claim unpaid wages from a government agency who pays them and then goes after the company that didn’t pay to recover the money.

larsrc1 day ago

I happened to find out what the Danish laws for not getting paid on time are, as the company I was working for got into financial trouble. If you're not paid on time, you can send a letter setting a deadline for the payment - typically a week or two. If you're not paid by then, you get to declare the company bankrupt. You can stop working, and you will get the next three month's payment from a state-run fund, even if you find other work. Isn't socialism just wonderful?

jokoon2 days ago

The US never ceases to surprise me

That's so medieval and backward for a country like that

stevenwoo2 days ago

If I'm not mistaken, we are the only country which has a founding document enshrining chattel slavery. Many of the issues in the USA stem from this, amendments notwithstanding - it's a stain on everything, arguments in the top legal court, the Supreme Court, frequently bring up the historicity so we are constantly enmeshed in very old and sometimes medieval thinking, i.e. recent abortion decision referenced many legal arguments that preceded modern biology or medicine.

eesmith10 hours ago

Which document? I can't find where the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation or the US Constitution enshrine chattel slavery. None mention slavery directly, eg, says there are only indirect references.

Brazil's independence from Brazil was declared in 1822 and recognized in 1825. "Slavery was legitimated as a historical institution in the Brazilian Constitution of 1824 in the right to own property." says

More specifically, just like the US Constitution does not mention slavery, writes:

"Given its Enlightenment inspiration and proclaimed liberal spirit the Brazilian Constitution of 1824 never explicitly employed the words slave or slavery. But it did implicitly recognize the slaveholding character of Brazilian society when it subtly confessed the inequality among men. To some extent it had to, for the far-reaching consequences of the slave-master relationship were too important to be fully ignored. The solution the constituent found was to borrow categories from Roman law.5 Article 6 of the Charta established that Brazilians were those born in Brazil, either ingenuous or freed. Ingenuous were those born free, while freed were those born slaves but manumitted (Ribas 1880, 49)." ..

It seems that "masters could revoke a granted manumission in case of ingratitude."

Brazil did not abolish slavery until 1888.

jokoon1 day ago

what bothers me is that the country with the most dominant military sometimes looks like it might turn bad which would not be good for the rest of the world

iancmceachern2 days ago

This happened to me, from a big "trusted" company.

apapapa2 days ago

Bet attorneys and Gov did.

FpUser2 days ago

When it is actual theft why the owners/authors of said theft are not charged criminally? Why laws are asymmetric? When Hertz complains about car theft while there is none the renters are getting charged.

Jensson2 days ago

Refusing to pay your bills is treated the same for private persons, you just don't call that rent theft. Calling being late with a payment theft doesn't make it theft.

I am very happy that I don't get treated like a criminal just because I forgot to pay a bill, I don't see why companies should be treated differently.

MeImCounting2 days ago

Again, we are not talking about "late checks" here. Say youre renting an apartment. It costs 3000 a month but you only pay 2500 a month. Is that ok? Should you be allowed to live in that apartment?

FpUser1 day ago

I am all for fairness. Then explain why people are being criminally charged for car theft when there is none. It was malicious reporting with the purpose of settling later. Meanwhile no one at Hertz is currently facing criminal penalties for initiating the false arrests with law enforcement.

>"I don't see why companies should be treated differently."

In this case I'd love people to get away with fraud / theft / etc. After all big companies commit it left and right and gets away with it.

FireBeyond2 days ago

You're all over this thread trying to miscategorize wage theft as "paying a bill late".

It's not. It's systematically _not ever_ paying monies owed, on an ongoing basis. And given the number of interactions you've had on this where this has been explained, it seems to be deliberately obtuse on your part by now.

This in between you trying to describe it as a small, almost non-existent problem, and when it does happen, it's non-profitable small businesses just struggling to keep the lights on.

Very hard to assume good faith here.

vundercind2 days ago

The answer is in the name of our economic system:

Capital -ism.

We basically put a big flashing sign right out front saying whose interests are the top priority.

Philorandroid2 days ago

That's such a yellow-press non-answer. Annoyed interpretations of the name of something doesn't offer any insight into, or affect the reality of, the thing.

vundercind2 days ago

I think it’s interesting that the labeling and the observed behavior of the system really do match.

Philorandroid2 days ago
stcredzero2 days ago

This has happened to me! In a programming job, no less!

Is this something which could be addressed through the use of a specialized AI assistant?

The biggest barrier to uncompensated workers is the cost of litigation. If the worker could represent themselves effectively, then this would stop.

mrguyorama2 days ago

>Is this something which could be addressed through the use of a specialized AI assistant?

JFC tech workers sometimes. Just unionize man, that's like the whole point of unions. An "AI assistant" that was effective would be telling you the same thing. You can't convince your boss that paying you what you are owed is the correct choice, you don't have any power in the relationship. Whether they are right or not, they BELIEVE you are eminently replaceable.

stcredzero2 days ago

JFC tech workers sometimes. Just unionize man

Basically, people don't want to do the lawsuit, because they don't know how and to pay for the expertise, it would cost more than the paycheck.

The most straightforward way to fix it, is to make the expertise low or zero cost.

An "AI assistant" that was effective would be telling you the same thing.

No, it would tell me how to conduct the lawsuit.

Below is what ChatGPT-4 just told me. Had I known back then, I would have just done this. (And I note that the lawyer who told me it would cost me more than I would get back didn't tell me a lot of this!)


I have been shorted $4000 on my last paycheck when I was let go by a software company in Columbia, South Carolina. What is the jurisprudence on being shorted pay, what do I have to prove, and how do I go about bringing the lawsuit.


In a situation where you've been shorted on your final paycheck, the specific steps you can take and the jurisprudence around it largely depend on both federal and state laws. Here's a general overview of what you need to know and potential steps you could take, specifically tailored to Columbia, South Carolina:

Jurisprudence on Being Shorted Pay

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): At the federal level, the FLSA requires that employees are paid for all hours worked. If an employer fails to pay you what you're owed, you may have a claim under the FLSA.

State Laws: South Carolina has its own labor laws that complement federal laws. While South Carolina does not have specific laws governing the timing of final paychecks for terminated employees, employers are generally expected to adhere to the agreed-upon terms of pay. If no specific terms are set, then they must follow the usual pay schedule.

What You Have to Prove

To bring a successful claim for unpaid wages, you typically need to prove:

The Amount Owed: Documentation or evidence of the agreed-upon wages and the shortfall in your final paycheck. Hours Worked: Evidence of the hours you worked for which you have not been paid. This could include time sheets, emails, or other records. Attempts to Resolve: It's often beneficial to show that you've made reasonable attempts to resolve the issue with your employer before resorting to legal action. Steps to Take Review Employment Agreement: Check your employment contract or any official documentation regarding pay rates, schedules, and termination policies.

Gather Documentation: Compile all relevant documents, including pay stubs, employment contracts, correspondence with the employer about your pay, and any records of hours worked.

Attempt to Resolve Directly: It's often recommended to attempt to resolve the issue with your employer directly. Sometimes, pay discrepancies are due to clerical errors and can be corrected without legal action.

File a Wage Claim: If direct resolution isn't possible, you can file a wage claim with the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (SCLLR). While SCLLR does not handle wage disputes directly, they can guide you on the process and what state resources might be available.

Consult with an Attorney: Consider consulting with an employment law attorney who is familiar with South Carolina's laws. An attorney can advise you on the best course of action, whether it's negotiating a settlement or filing a lawsuit. They can also help you understand your rights and the strengths of your case.

Small Claims Court: For amounts under a certain threshold (which varies by state), you might be able to bring a claim in small claims court without the need for an attorney. In South Carolina, the limit for small claims court is $7,500.

Federal Claim: If your case involves violations of federal law (such as FLSA violations), you might also have the option to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division.

Each case is unique, so it's important to get personalized legal advice. An attorney can help you navigate the specific procedures and ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.

ChrisArchitect2 days ago


kingkawn2 days ago

Unions Unions Unions

timbit422 days ago

Even better: Worker Cooperatives.

InCityDreams2 days ago

Thanks to whom I enjoy two days off a week and, the safety dude immediately corrected something I'd pointed out as dangerous 5 years ago.

btbuildem2 days ago

I wonder if the workers still owe taxes on the unpaid wages. I bet the gov't plays it that way, leaving the burden on the victims of the crime.

micromacrofoot2 days ago

the hypocritical nature of companies that employ wage theft is something else too... companies like walmart, walgreens, cvs, etc are largely responsible for "organized retail crime" being showcased in the media... and they use this complaint when they close locations in poor neighborhoods and create pharmacy deserts (and to be clear, it seems to be a big lie)... but they'll try to get their outrageously larger wage theft settlements buried

many media outlets are complicit with this, and are either getting completely fooled by these PR tactics or simply don't care

devmor2 days ago

This topic always reminds me of one of my first jobs as a young adult. It was a call center, for political polling.

The facility was foul, we had rats running around, frequent minor electrocutions from improperly maintained power and of course, all sorts of backhanded tactics to avoid paying employees what they were owed.

At some point, someone had enough and reported something to OSHA - I’m not sure what, but the day the inspector showed up, our supervisors came around the office telling us all that we had better lie to the inspector because if we tell the truth, they’ll shut us down for weeks and no one will be able to pay their rent.

I wonder how many other people struggle with that issue daily. The inability to try to make their employer do the bare minimum out of fear of losing what they do have.

draw_down2 days ago


AniseAbyss2 days ago


Bobbyben1 day ago


tretwertAC2 days ago

So, you're telling me yet another intervention, this time minimum wage fiat, doesn't work?

Who could have thought?

metabagel2 days ago

There’s the law, and then there is enforcement of the law.

cool_dude852 days ago

Are you a libertarian? Much wage theft is not paying for time worked - a violation of one of the sacred Contracts you little rascals love so much.

charles_f2 days ago

I don't know how you make the jump from human exploitation to "there's too much interventions".

Libertarians and ultra capitalists see the building on fire and complain that we have too many firefighters. Let this building auto-regulate! To some degree it's probably the same mechanisms of self-deception that conspiracy theorists use to make themselves feel good and superior for having seen the light.

There is no magic effect of the capitalism system. It eats workers and shits billionaires. It won't self correct. And arguably yes, all the regulations are just patches to the system, but short of a revolution and changing the system itself, that's the best there is for now.

gadders2 days ago

From the article:

>> There are numerous forms of wage theft, from employers not compensating workers for time worked, violating minimum wage and overtime laws, misclassifying employees as independent contractors, not providing legally required meal breaks, confiscating worker tips, or illegally taking deductions from worker wages.

Yeah, one of those isn't like the others. I know unions and the tax people hate it, but some people are perfectly happy to be independent contractors.

Having said all that, for all the others make the company directors personally liable.

enragedcacti2 days ago

They don't mean "Uber driver" or "Tech Consultant", they mean when businesses hire someone as a contractor for a set of roles and responsibilities that are legally a job, usually followed up by exploiting that distinction to pay less than minimum wage or flout other federal labor laws. Here is the latest ruling on how the distinction is made:

mattlutze2 days ago

There's also the jobs where folks thing they're an employee but are being reported by the business as a contractor, to effectively pay less and also save on required tax and benefit compensation.

gadders2 days ago

I'm happy if the driver of the classification is to the benefit of the employee. In the UK, it is mostly driven by the need to maximise tax revenue.

nostrademons2 days ago

Usually people are happy to be independent contractors because of the autonomy it brings.

The issue with misclassification is that a number of jobs don't actually have the level of autonomy needed to be legally classified as an independent contractor, and yet the company classifies them as one anyway to skimp out on benefits.

InitialLastName2 days ago

> some people are perfectly happy to be independent contractors.

Literally nobody is denying that. The issue is that many companies are also happy to use the classification to their advantage when the roles don't meet the legal standard their society has put forth as the requirement for someone to be an independent contractor (largely e.g. genuine independence in their work).

screenothethird2 days ago


gadders2 days ago

>>being an idiot

Have you been talking to my wife?

NikolaNovak2 days ago


This however is empathically and clearly not about people who enjoy perks of independent contracting. I'm aware of no union or "tax people" in my circle who deny that reality.

This is about people who have NO perks of independent contracting and NO perks of being an employee.

I've had several friends in such situations - from sleezy sketchy places, to standard practice at bug research institutions.

(The down votes, fwiw, are probably not because people disagree with your political stance, lest you feel like a martyr, but from possibly intentional obtuse misrepresentation of article and issue).

gadders2 days ago

>>I'm aware of no union or "tax people" in my circle who deny that reality.

>> (The down votes, fwiw, are probably not because people disagree with your political stance, lest you feel like a martyr, but from possibly intentional obtuse misrepresentation of article and issue).

I think I'll cope with the loss of imaginary internet points, and there is no obtuse misrepresentation. Clearly your reading comprehension is struggling. I said that:

>>>> There are numerous forms of wage theft, from employers not compensating workers for time worked, violating minimum wage and overtime laws, misclassifying employees as independent contractors, not providing legally required meal breaks, confiscating worker tips, or illegally taking deductions from worker wages.

>> Yeah, one of those isn't like the others. I know unions and the tax people hate it, but some people are perfectly happy to be independent contractors.

I can't think of anyone that would like to be paid less than minimum wage, or not get paid overtime for instance, but I can think of plenty of people (especially in the UK) that would have liked to have continued as independent contractors (in IT, broadcasting, lorry driving or wherever).

Often under the guise of protecting the vulnerable, over broad legislation is passed that affects more than just (EG) the Uber Eats driver.

yardie2 days ago

Plenty of jobs will pay you the state/federal minimum wage on a 1099. And if that is the case you aren't a contractor because a real contractor knows there is running costs to dba that aren't factored into those low pay rates. And as labor court has determined repeatedly, if you can't choose pay, hours, or location you aren't a contractor.

bjornevik2 days ago

> misclassifying

lotsofpulp2 days ago

Another one is misclassifying non exempt employees as exempt, and not paying them for more than 40 hours per week. Big in immigrant circles where one or two people will operate a 24/7 or near 24/7 business and be called “managers” when they have no management autonomy.

devmor2 days ago

Whether you are happy to be a contractor or not, there is a legal definition of contractor vs employee and it is often misrepresented to the detriment of the eponymous contractor.

gadders2 days ago

In the UK, it is often misrepresented to the benefit of the tax office.