Strikes Highlight Wage Theft in Fast Food Jobs

Strikes taking place in major cities across the United States are drawing attention to a major problem for many workers - wage theft. Workers who are staging these protests are asking not only for a higher wage but also for the ability to organize without facing retaliation. 

The fast-food industry is typically thought of as an employer for teens or younger people looking for temporary or seasonal work but has increasingly become a place where adults who support their families must work because higher-paying jobs are not available. 

In addition to generally being paid minimum wage, workers in the fast-food industry can face other bad treatment and illegal conduct at work. For example, a recent survey of hundreds of fast-food workers by an activist group showed that 84 percent of workers in New York City suffered from wage theft in some form. Wage theft can be refusing to pay overtime, underpaying tips, or illegally withholding paychecks.

Managers at fast-food restaurants have also been accused of manipulating hours and scheduling to avoid paying overtime and providing health insurance benefits.

The important take-away for Texas workers is to know that even when the treatment they are experiencing seems widespread, that does not necessarily make it legal or acceptable. Workers may be misinformed about their rights or they may assume that the unfair treatment they experience at work is lawful because of a loophole in labor laws, but the truth is that all workers are entitled to fair pay for the hours that they work, no matter what. 

Source: Huffington Post, "Fast-Food Workers Decry Widespread Wge theft in New York: Report," Saki Knafo, May 16, 2013.