This is no surprise to me, as someone who has both worked these kinds of jobs and still has to chase employers down for freelance writing checks. The law is always stacked against workers.
From a Politico investigation:
That’s the conclusion of a nine-month investigation by POLITICO, which found that workers are so lightly protected that six states have no investigators to handle minimum-wage violations, while 26 additional states have fewer than 10 investigators. Given the widespread nature of wage theft and the dearth of resources to combat it, most cases go unreported. Thus, an estimated $15 billion in desperately needed income for workers with lowest wages goes instead into the pockets of shady bosses.
But even those workers who are able to brave the system and win — to get states to order their bosses to pay them what they’re owed -- confront a further barrier: Fully 41 percent of the wages that employers are ordered to pay back to their workers aren’t recovered, according to a POLITICO survey of 15 states.
It reminds me of tenant rights in New York City. They’re actually pretty robust, compared to the rest of the nation, but it’s basically impossible to get them enforced. The landlord (or, here, employer) has the control and impetus, and the renter (worker) has to fight and sometimes even hire a lawyer for any shot at getting the thing to which they’re legally entitled.
This failure to enforce both the minimum hourly wage — $7.25 under federal law — and rules requiring higher pay for overtime distorts the economy, giving advantages to employers who break the law. It allows long-term patterns of abuse to take root in certain service industries, especially restaurants, landscaping and cleaning. Advocates for lowest-wage workers describe families facing eviction and experiencing hunger for lack of money that’s owed them. And, nationally, the failure to enforce wage laws exacerbates a level of income inequality that, by many measures, is higher than it’s been for the past century.
Much more over at the Politico story...