Why Companies Steal Money from their Employees

More money is stolen each year through wage theft than all other crimes combined.   Approximately 135 $Billion.  Low wage workers are hit hardest as they on average lost about one-third of their earnings each year to wage theft.  

Hi, I’m Robert Ottinger. I’m an employment lawyer with the Ottinger Firm, and we represent executives and employees.

Every year, $15 billion is stolen through wage theft. Wage theft is the single biggest property crime in America. More is stolen through wage theft than other property crimes like robbery and burglary combined.

Most of the victims of wage theft are low-income workers, and most low-income workers in America lose about one-third of the earnings every year through wage theft. This is a big problem in America, but it doesn’t get much coverage in the media.

But yesterday, a reporter called me and wanted to know why, in my opinion, wage theft was such a big problem. Well, I told her the answer was simple. The system is rigged in favor the employer.

Here’s how it’s rigged. Most property crimes like robbery and burglary are crimes. If you steal someone’s ring, if you steal their car, and you get caught, good chance you’re going to go to jail or be punished harshly. However, if a company steals a person’s wages, they’re not going to go to jail. When was the last time you ever heard of a person going to jail for wage theft? It never happens.

So that’s the main reason, in my opinion, why wage theft remains such a huge problem because it’s theft. If you steal someone’s wages, it’s just like stealing money out of their pocket. There’s really no difference, but for some reason, it isn’t a crime in America, and that’s why companies continue to do it.

The second reason is that the government agency that’s supposed to protect workers from wage theft is called the Department of Labor, but that department is really kind of a joke, and that’s because there aren’t enough people working there to protect the American workforce.

In fact, the numbers are kind of startling. Did you know that 70 years ago the Department of Labor had 1,000 people out there trying to enforce the wage laws? And back then, 70 years ago, there were 22 million workers. But today, 70 years later, the workforce has grown to 135 million workers.

But guess what? There’s still only 1,000 people working for the Department of Labor trying to protect workers. So that’s really the main reason. The Department of Labor is a joke. It doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of people it needs to help protect the American worker.

Hopefully, someday soon, our country will realize this is a big problem and make the changes necessary to help the American workforce.

I’m Robert Ottinger. If you have any comments, if you disagree with this, any suggestions, I’d love to hear your comments. Just let me know in the comments below or send me an email. Thank you.

Author Photo

Robert Ottinger, Esq.

Robert Ottinger is an employment attorney who focuses on representing executives and employees in employment disputes. Before starting his firm, Robert slugged it out in courtrooms trying cases for the government. Robert served as a Deputy Attorney General for the California Department of Justice in Los Angeles and then as Assistant Attorney General for the New York Attorney General’s Office in Manhattan.

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