No one likes looking at their paycheck and finding that they have not been paid for hours of hard work. For the most part, companies do pay employees the money they are owed. For some employees, however, wage theft is the reality.
AGL industries and wage theft
For workers at a Queens steelmaking company, not being compensated for their work was a harsh reality. Employees of AGL Industries, over a period of 4 years, were cheated out millions in wages. AGL Industries, between the years of 2013 and 2017, frequently under-reported the payroll when they reported to the state labor department.
Wage theft is not something to be taken lightly as hard-working individuals are always the victim. Governor Cuomo stated that this was the single largest wage recovery process in the over one-hundred-year history of the state Department of Labor. Wage theft is defined as the unlawful denial of wages or benefits that are owed to employees. This is a highly illegal practice that can result in charges of grand larceny if the company or employer is taken to court.
AGL Industries and Dominick LoFaso, the principal of the company, have been ordered to pay back $6 million in stolen wages over a period of five years to 500 employees who were denied wages. The company agreed to plead guilty to the charge of felony grand larceny. The D.A. of Manhattan has not recommended any jail time for LoFaso for his part in the scheme.
How common is wage theft?
When it comes to wage theft it is often the responsibility of the employee to prove to a certain extent that there has been some wage theft of some sort. This was the case with this ruling as well, Ironworkers Local 361 was the union that did help to expose the wage theft and bring it to the attention of investigators so that the case could be properly pursued.
Wage theft is more common than you might imagine. Wage theft goes beyond typical sweatshop settings and fast-food restaurants and other smaller areas that one might imagine. That being said, wage theft is most common when it comes to overtime pay and to those employees that do have to purchase work uniforms. Wage theft is something that is built into the model that many businesses use, be they aware of it or not.
What to do if you suspect wage theft
If you are working for a company and you do suspect that there is wage theft going on, you should take the time to go to your local labor union if you have one. If you do not have a labor union to report to, you can always seek legal help. Getting the help of an attorney that is experienced in wage theft cases and knows what information and what evidence is needed to make a strong case.
As an employer, it is their duty to take the time to compensate their employees for the work that they are doing. Sadly, there are some employers that simply do not pay their employees enough or that do deny them wages for the work that they have done. Taking the time to file a lawsuit or to hold these companies accountable for wage theft is the only way that we can begin to move toward a society where all employees are paid fairly.