Since recovery began in 2009, corporate profits have skyrocketed yet the companies refuse to raise wages and, even worse, pay them out, leading to many accusations of wage theft, reported The New York Times.

According to the NYT, the number of companies that violate wage laws is now higher than ever before, and competition to increase profits by any means necessary has led to them refusing to pay rightfully-earned wages. Walmart, McDonald’s, and others are among the most egregious offenders.

Guadalupe Rangel worked as a stocker for the Walmart-contracted warehouse Schnieder where he would log long hours, working seven consecutive days 11 hours a day. Despite working double time in one week, Schneider never paid Rangel overtime wages. Alongside hundreds of other workers who filed suit against the company, Rangel could receive at least $20,000 in back pay.

“Sometimes I’d work 60, even 90 days in a row,” said Rangel. “They never paid overtime.”

Another instance of corporate wage theft involved McDonald’s cashier Guadalupe Salazar from Oakland, Calif. Like Rangel, Salazar noted that the company neglected to pay her for the correct amount of hours worked, as well as overtime pay.

There are currently seven lawsuits filed against McDonald’s, one of which Salazar is part of, asserting that the company “cheated” their employees out of overtime pay, had hours wiped from timesheets, and were forced to work for free.

In 2012, the Economic Policy Institute found that the Department of Labor recovered over $280 million in wages that companies had stolen from over 300,000 workers. It is thought that the recovered amount is but a portion of the total amount stolen from workers each year as limited resources and manpower have difficulty investigating the seven million employers in the country.

The NYT noted that business advocates think the lawsuits are only meant to push a pro-union agenda. However, whether or not the lawsuits are driving an agenda still doesn’t excuse companies from paying workers fair and rightfully-earned wages, to which they are entitled.

Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.