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Researchers like the National Employment Law Project believe wag theft is one of the costliest and most pervasive crimes in America today. It is a crime that has many forms where employers intentionally misclassify workers as independent contractors to avoid paying payroll or workers compensation taxes. Some companies force employees to do many hours of their job off the clock and to work through meal breaks. They might also pay workers less than the minimum or prevailing wage or, in extreme cases, not at all.
According to this StateNet Capitol Journal article, State wage theft laws generally ‘inadequate,’ state laws protecting against wage theft “are almost universally inadequate.” The article cites a 2012 report by the Progressive States Network (PSN) that considered such factors as access to civil litigation, employer record transparency and penalties for violations. Even the states PSN rated highest, New York and Massachusetts, only earned grades in the C range. Meanwhile, 44 states received failing grades.