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Wage theft costs workers billions of dollars

Workers in Texas and throughout the country may not always be paid their full wage in a given pay period. This is called wage theft, and there are many tactics that employers may use to pay less than what their employees are owed. These strategies include failing to pay overtime and failing to pay a employee for all hours worked in a given pay period. Employers may also hold back tips or pay workers less than the minimum wage in a given state.

A study conducted in 2017 by the Economic Policy Institute, or EPI, found that employees in the 10 most populous states lose $8 billion a year because of wage theft. The EPI believes that workers nationally will lose about $15 billion per year because they haven't been paid properly. On average, a worker will lose $3,300 a year because an employer has taken steps to improperly withhold his or her pay.

Workers can also be victimized by companies that label them as independent contractors instead of employees. While companies of any size can engage in wage theft, it tends to happen most often at larger organizations such as Amazon or Walmart. The Department of Labor handles wage theft cases at the federal level, but some city and state governments are assisting in the effort to ensure that employers comply with wage laws.

Those who are denied overtime pay or are improperly labeled as independent contractors may be victims of wage theft. An attorney may help them file a lawsuit or file a complaint with the appropriate government agency. Those who are successful in their claims may receive back pay plus interest in addition to other damages. Additional relief may be available if an employer retaliates against a worker for filing a claim.

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