EL PASO,TX — Thursday November 14th is the "National Day of Action to Stop Wage Theft." Last September the Texas Wage Theft Bill was passed into law, but, eliminating this widespread practice will take time. Texas Senator Jose Rodriguez sponsored the wage theft bill last year, but so far, only two cases have been brought to the District Attorney in El Paso.
Jed Untereker with the Paso Del Norte Civil Rights Project says, "unfortunately, in the past year it seems like not much has changed....impunity exists for employers."
Senator Rodriguez is optimistic that number will increase, after initial successful prosecutions of employers found guilty of wage theft. Rodriguez says it's more than just a few dollars here and there. For many families, wage theft has real consequences, "because working families have absolutely no margin for temporary hardship and cannot afford to miss a single paycheck."
Wage theft happens more than you might expect. According to Senator Rodriguez, "One out of every eight workers a victim, Paso Del Norte Civil Rights Project has received complaints from workers amounting to nearly one million dollars in unpaid wages."
Victims of wage theft can contact the Texas Workforce Commission or law enforcement, no documentation is necessary. Untereker says that some workers may be hesitant to report wage theft because they don't have pay stubs, and think they must prove their employer owes them. He explains, "that burden is not on the worker. many workers believe that they have to have the check...or if they get paid cash...then they can't use these laws, and that is false."
Wage theft also includes non payment of overtime pay..and according to survey, more than 65% percent of low wage workers who worked over 40 hours were not paid what they were owed.