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Pennsylvania’s Problem with Wage Theft
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Summary: Wage theft is a common problem that Pennsylvania is dealing with. Workers don’t know the law or their rights so employers can get away with shortchanging their workers.

Temple University’s Sheller Center for Social Justice released a study they conducted found that employers are stealing money from Pennsylvania’s workers. The report states that these employers are keeping anywhere from $19 to $32 million each week through actions like unpaid overtime, minimum wage violations, illegal pay deductions, and stolen tips. This intentional action harms the workers and the economy.


Wage theft is a common problem that can occur “across a broad range of industries, including construction workers, fast food workers, caregivers for children and the elderly, factory workers, restaurant staff, cashiers, and office clerks. Its victims include men and women of every race and nationality. It affects both U.S. citizens and undocumented immigrants.”

The report estimates that in the Philadelphia metropolitan area around each week, 128,586 minimum wage violations happen, as well as 105,458 violations on overtime pay. While wage theft occurs more for those of low-wage and hourly jobs, it still happens to everyone. There are certain workers that get taken advantage of more often like home care workers.

The study also discusses how this theft affects the economy. When workers are making less, there is less money being spent, which helps boost the economy and produces more taxes to cover commonwealth expenses. Small businesses especially feel this shortage.

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The report explains how this theft often happens. Many workers do not understand the law and so they don’t catch when an employer fails to give them full overtime or know the difference between being an employee vs independent contractor is.

There are laws that are supposed to protect workers but when they don’t know them, they don’t know what help is available to make sure they are getting their full wages. There are some that want to make the laws stricter so that workers are protected more. Proposed Senate Bill 198 would give harsher penalties to employers that violate the law. Proposed House Bill 250 aims to raise the minimum wage and give harsher financial and criminal penalties to employers that break the law.




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