AKRON, Ohio. According to the Hill, wage theft costs Americans an estimated $50 billion each year. When you compare this to American losses due to burglaries and motor vehicle theft, which totaled $14 billion, wage theft clearly takes a greater toll on American workers. Workers suffer wage theft or wage violations when they are paid less than minimum wage, are forced to work off the clock, or are not paid overtime. While these tactics designed to cut costs are illegal, they are seldom punished.
Unfortunately, many of the workers who suffer the most egregious wage violations are immigrant workers, who may be afraid to speak out against abusive employers because of fears of deportation or retaliation. When it comes to wage theft, workers alone are not the only people who are hurt, but also the workers’ families and children. Many of these workers are already struggling financially, many with incomes at or below the poverty line. When wage theft occurs, these workers may face food insecurity, may not be able to afford medical care, or their children may suffer from lack of access to important necessities.
Unfortunately, when workers do come forward, the rewards can be small when compared to the time cost and the difficulty workers sometimes face. Workers may need to fight their employers in court. And even when they fight back, their employers may not face serious penalties for stealing money from workers.
The stealing of immigrant’s wages doesn’t stop there. According to the New York Times, when immigrants are sent to detention centers, they could be forced to work while they are there. Detainees may be required to do the cooking, cleaning, janitorial services, and may even be required to perform vehicle maintenance. How much are immigrant workers paid for these jobs? According to the New York Times, they might be paid as little as $1 a day, and sometimes nothing at all.
In fact, in cases where workers have been injured on the job at detention centers, the government has found that these centers could be considered employers and are therefore required to provide safe workplaces. How often detention centers actually provide safe workplaces and protect workers for injury is unclear, because many of these workers fall under the radar of regulators.
Immigrants and civil rights groups are fighting back, thankfully. Some detention center companies are being sued for not paying immigrant workers the minimum wage. While individuals serving jail sentences can be asked to work, immigrants have not committed any crime, so asking them to work may be in violation of the Constitution’s anti-slavery laws.
In fact, if detention centers lose, they may be asked to pay millions of dollars in back pay to workers.
Wage and hour violations take a serious human toll. If you believe you have been denied money you rightfully deserve, visit The Law Offices of Benjamin Riek III in Akron, Ohio. Our wage and hour violations lawyers may be able to help you fight back against employer wage theft and wage violations. If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated for asking for back wages or overtime pay, you also have rights. Visit The Law Offices of Benjamin Riek III, employment lawyers in Akron, Ohio.

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