Each year workers across the state of New York are not paid the full compensation they are owed. As WHAM reports, almost $15 million was not paid out to New York workers in the first six months of 2017.
The New York Department of Labor is returning the stolen wages to the more than 21,000 people who had some of their compensation withheld illegally. This is called wage theft, and it has many forms. When an employee is not paid the legal minimum wage, not given a paycheck outside of the tips they earn or denied overtime pay for work over 40 hours a week, they are victims of wage theft. Workers who find themselves in such a situation can make a wage theft complaint. Last year, the New York Department of Labor was ultimately able to return $26.4 million to workers who had been denied their full pay.
Wage theft is a problem across the country, and the Washington Examiner reports that some lawmakers are trying to create harsher penalties for companies that steal wages and violate the Fair Labor Standards Act. Three Democrats in the Senate and two in the House are introducing legislation that would increase the fines an employer pays for breaking the wage laws. Currently, fines are limited to $1,100 per violation, but the proposed bill would increase the first violation to $2,000 and $10,000 each for any that follow.
Employees are entitled to time and a half pay for any work over 40 hours a week, according to federal law. Some employees, over a salary threshold, are exempt from overtime laws, but the salary threshold is currently being debated in court. Under the Obama administration, it was being increased, from $23,000 a year to $47,000. Under the Trump administration, if there is an increase in threshold, it is likely to be lower.