What Is Wage Theft Exactly?

Robert Kuttner’s evaluation of the new TaskRabbit/freelance economy includes a super overview of what labor activists are talking about when they talk about wage theft: “Wage theft has become endemic in the United States. Employers steal wages (typically from the poorest and most vulnerable workers) in a variety of ways. As Kim Bobo’s definitive Wage Theft in America recounts, employers steal tips, fail to pay required overtime, add bogus deductions to paychecks, and misclassify regular employees as contract workers in order to avoid paying Social Security, unemployment taxes, or workers’ comp. They illegally make workers “clock out” during slack times of the day and make them work “off the clock” at the end of shifts. They bill workers for uniforms and safety equipment, dropping their real wages below the legal minimum. Sometimes, they just flatly fail to pay wages owed.”

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