Friday, September 12, 2014

Employers steal billions from workers, study shows

Wage theft in the United States dwarfs the amount stolen through robbery, burglary, larceny and car theft, the Economic Policy Institute reported in a new study

EPI estimates employers steal $50 billion a year from employees by denying pay for overtime, preparation or cleanup; by refusing meal breaks; by failing to pay minimum wage. That's three times as much as was stolen in crimes reported to police in 2012.

In a press release, EPI tells us:
The total amount of money recovered for the victims of wage theft who retained private lawyers or complained to federal or state agencies was at least $933 million in 2012, almost three times greater than all the money stolen in robberies that year. However, since most victims never report wage theft and never sue, the real cost of wage theft to workers is much greater, and could be closer to $50 billion a year.
Here's an example of how it's done:
After an investigation by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office, Mark Zwirecki, a subcontractor for Classic Gutter Co., was found guilty of 10 counts of forgery in committing wage theft against 10 Polish carpenters working under him on a project to soundproof homes near O’Hare airport. 
Zwirecki, a subcontractor and foreman for Classic Gutter Co., deposited the money the company gave him to pay his workers directly into his own bank account. He then provided the employees an undisclosed wage far below the prevailing wage they were legally entitled to. According to the attorney general’s office, Zwirecki’s ability to speak Polish to the mostly non-English speaking carpenters aided the scheme, through which he stole $270,753. Zwirecki was sentenced to 12 months of probation and forced to pay a $10,333 fine on top of $60,804 in restitution to the workers
Read the whole thing here.