New Report Reveals Rampant Wage Theft Among Top US Corporations

A “jaw-dropping” wage theft report out this week reveals that many top US corporations—from Walmart to Bank of America to AT&T—”have fattened their profits by forcing employees to work off the clock or depriving them of required overtime pay,” based on a review of labor lawsuits and enforcement actions.

Grand Theft Paycheck: The Large Corporations Shortchanging Their Workers’ Wages (pdf), produced by Good Jobs First and the Jobs With Justice Education Fund, found that hundreds of firms have collectively paid billions of dollars in wage theft penalties since 2000.

The report identifies several wage theft practices such as off-the-clock work, job title misclassifications that unfairly exempt workers from overtime pay, and uncompensated clothing purchase requirements, as well as overtime, minimum wage, meal break, and tip violations.

Researchers uncovered more than 1,200 successful collective actions challenging large companies’ bad behavior. Those cases cost top corporations a total of $8.8 billion. A review of actions by the U.S. Department of Labor and eight state regulatory agencies uncovered another 4,220 cases against major corporations, which produced $9.2 billion in penalites.

“Our findings make it clear that wage theft goes far beyond sweatshops, fast-food outlets, and retailers. It is built into the business model of a substantial portion of corporate America,” said Good Jobs First research director Philip Mattera, the report’s lead author.

The employers who paid the most penalties for wage theft violations ranged from retailers and banks to insurance and telecommunications companies, the report highlights:

Among the dozen most penalized corporations, Walmart, with $1.4 billion in total settlements and fines, is the only retailer. Second is FedEx with $502 million. Half of the top dozen are banks and insurance companies, including Bank of America ($381 million); Wells Fargo ($205 million); JPMorgan Chase ($160…

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