The United States is now a low wage economy. Over 30 million Americans are considered low wage workers. Two-thirds of low wage workers, the majority of which are restaurant workers, report some form of wage theft every week by their employers. This could mean anything from being cheated out of hours worked, paid less than the minimum wage, not paid overt time or simply not being paid at all.
Studies estimate that low wage worker lose 15% of their income each year to corrupt employers, the restaurant industry being one of the worst offenders.
According to the Department of Labor, 84 percent of more than 9,000 sit-down restaurants investigated and inspected in the last three years were in violation of wage laws. But the Department of Labor, now little more than a subsidiary of the food service lobbying industry, does nothing, referring those violated and cheated to private lawyers instead.
Meanwhile, in Washington political circles, the food services industry remains an organized and powerful opponent against increased minimum wage and workplace protections, spending millions of dollars each year to lobby against regulations and increased wages.
And where do the majority of the dollars they use to fight minimum wage bills and keep wages low come from? You guessed it, wage theft: the billions stolen from low wage workers.