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Why is wage theft a problem in Pennsylvania?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2024 | employee rights |

Wage theft is a significant issue for many workers in Pennsylvania. Wage theft refers to when an employer does not pay employees for work performed, violates minimum wage laws, denies overtime pay, requires off-the-clock work or makes illegal deductions from paychecks.

Unfortunately, wage theft has become all too common, leaving hard-working Pennsylvanians without their legally earned wages.

The scope of the problem

Various studies and surveys have shown that wage theft is widespread in Pennsylvania. For example, restaurants across the state commit wage theft with improper tip-sharing practices, a policy that brought Provision PGH into the limelight with the Department of Labor, resulting in a $42,000 restitution order to their tipped workers.

Why does wage theft occur?

Wage theft often occurs because unscrupulous employers take advantage of vulnerable workers. New immigrants, low-income workers and employees in certain industries, such as food service, are frequent targets. Employers may deliberately misclassify employees as exempt from overtime or as independent contractors. Unfortunately, many employees are unaware of their rights or afraid to speak up.

What harm does wage theft cause?

Beyond the obvious injustice of not getting paid for one’s work, wage theft hurts families, communities and the state economy. Workers struggling to pay their bills must rely more on taxpayer-funded assistance programs. With less money circulating locally, businesses suffer as well.

No one should have to face exploitation at work, especially with their earnings. Employees should recognize the prevalence of wage theft and understand their rights to stand up for the compensation that they deserve.