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Wage Theft

In the United States, workers lose as much as $40 billion every year to wage theft. The majority of those experiencing stolen wages are women. Common forms of wage theft are non-payment of overtime, not giving workers their last paycheck after a worker leaves a job, not paying for all the hours worked, not paying minimum wage and/or not paying a worker at all. Restaurant work, garment manufacturing, long term care, home health care and retail are all industries with higher concentrations of female workers, especially women of color, and are also the industries with the most reported cases of wage theft.


1. Triple Damages Legislation: Analyzing wage and-hour laws and minimum wage violations in all 50 states, NorthWestern’s Institute for Policy Research finds that workers are significantly less likely to be paid below the minimum wage in states with stricter laws and greater enforcement against wage theft. States that have enacted treble damages—triple back pay as a penalty—have seen the steepest declines in wage theft. However, effective policies require three conditions: favorable partisan majorities in state government, determined coalitions of workers’ advocates lobbying for change, and strong enforcement of penalties. Secure Women will pursue treble damages legislation for wage theft  in key states. 

2. Enforcement of Judgments: Secure Women  believes the Wage Theft Task Force approach created by Lydia Garcia Brower, California’s Labor Commissioner, and Los Angeles County Sheriff, Alex Villanueva, is the missing component to fighting this number one theft in the US. Secure Women promotes replication of this model in cities nationwide

3. Expanding movements against wage theft: Secure Women endorses the New York Nail Salon Workers Association agenda and passage of the Nail Salon Accountability Act. Secure Women works to raise awareness about Wage Theft and to provide allyship to nail technicians, 82% who have experienced wage theft which is chronic in the industry.

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