When you factor in inflation, the federal minimum wage is at its lowest in many years, yet some employers continue to cheat workers out of their minimum wage and fail to pay overtime. This kind of violation is more common than people may realize, and much more can be done to protect workers from wage violations.
A study recently cited by the U.S. Labor Department revealed some outrageous numbers. The study looked at the pay of salary and wage workers in New York and California and concluded that, in each state, 300,000 workers each month were illegally paid less than the minimum wage. Those violations came to as much as $29 million in lost income each week.
The study, which was based on census data from 2011, also concluded that the amount of lost income represented 38 percent of the victimized workers' income in New York, and 49 percent of the victimized workers' income in California.
The Labor Department reported that wage violations occurred most often in industries where wages are already low, including the restaurant industry and the hotel industry.
In early December, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez announced plans to crack down on minimum wage violations. The Labor Department has already recovered back-wages totaling $1 billion since 2009.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act and New York State's labor law both govern minimum wage requirements. If you have not been paid fully and fairly by your employer, then an attorney with a passion for employment law can explain your legal options for holding your employer accountable and receiving the wages you deserve.