A new federal report has indicated that several companies steal wages from nearly two million workers in America each year, reported CBS News. Most of these workers are undocumented.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that approximately 1.7 million American workers, two-thirds of which were women, got paid less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Last December, the Department of Labor estimated that there are over 560,000 wage violations in just New York and California. The estimated loss of income is approximately $33 million.
The Labor Department has 1,000 investigators policing 7.3 million businesses that employ 135 million workers, but that’s only for enforcement on the federal level. Unfortunately, state and local wage laws don’t receive that extra bit of crucial scrutiny to ensure workers are getting paid properly.
As several cities gear up to increase the local minimum wage to $15 per hour, federal investigators will have a hard time ensuring that the increase is properly applied.
“A lot of states are facing that challenge now,” said David Weil, administrator of the U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. “It is very important to pass those minimum wage increases. . . Then, how do we make sure workers really receive them?”
Much of the wage theft is committed against undocumented workers in the United States. Businesses know that undocumented workers refuse to file any legal complaint over being underpaid as their bosses threaten to call immigration.
“Pick any street in Brooklyn and any street in Queens,” said Manuel Santiago, a Mexican worker in New York City. “Go into any restaurant. And there are no documented workers. None of the delivery guys are documented. Probably none of the kitchen staff are documented. And they are all getting less than minimum wage.”