The problem of wage theft — employers who dont pay their workers federal minimum wage or for overtime — mostly hits the ranks of lower-income workers.
This issue has particularly affected restaurant workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, which stepped up enforcement about two years ago, adding 200 more agents to handle the issue.
Earnings in the restaurant industry have also lagged behind that of the entire private sector, according to a book, Behind the Kitchen Door: Pervasive Inequality in New York Citys Thriving Restaurant Industry. In terms of annual earnings, restaurant workers on average made only $19,632 in 2000, compared to $46,654 in the private sector, a gap which increased by 17 percent since 1990, the book states.
Most of the workers surveyed for the book