The Movement to End Wage Theft

In 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt proposed the first national minimum wage law, to “end starvation wages” and to guarantee America’s “men and women a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.” Nevertheless, today, almost 35% of all Americans, many working at one or more jobs, remain poor. According to a new report: “A Fair Day’s Pay: The Movement to End Wage Theft”, Nik Theodore, an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois, October 2011, the scale of the abuse is enormous in economic terms and it does not only afflict undocumented workers, who are vulnerable because of their immigration status. It also affects other immigrants and U.S.-born workers who fear that if they complain about their lost wages, they will be fired and will never get a chance to collect their due.

The report which was commissioned by the Discount Foundation examines over a dozen examples of organizations utilizing innovative tactics to combat this illegal practice. The Discount Foundation is a small private foundation concerned with large social and economic problems. According to its website, Discount’s “primary goal is to make economic opportunity, the “American Dream” for generations of the poor, including immigrants, a reality for all.”

The report contains stories of both individual workers and the organizations they belong to, which are fighting this problem successfully. These organizations include the National Employment Law Project (“NELP”) and the Interfaith Worker Justice. Since 2009, the Department of Labor has added 300 new investigators. As a result of greater enforcement by the DOL, employers agreed to pay $313 million in back wages to 517,000 workers between 2009 and 2011.

Legislation has been drafted, proposed and enacted across the country to strengthen wage theft laws. We support these efforts and the effort of NELP and other organizations fighting for the rights of individual workers to earn a fair days pay.

We will fight for your right to be paid what you are entitled to.

If you believe your employer has failed to pay you overtime or minimum wage, or has wrongfully withheld gratuities from you, please tell us your story.

Abbey Spanier, LLP, located in New York City, is a well-recognized national class action and complex litigation law firm.