Law School Takes on Wage Theft Program to Help Prosecutors Attack Theft of Workers’ Wages

Gavel with open book and scales on table
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Gavel with open book and scales on table

By Delilah Hammons

CHAPEL HILL, NC – The Institute for Innovation in Protection launched a new project named “Protecting Workers: Wage Theft Enforcement for the Local Prosecutor,” designed to help prosecutors take on wage theft prosecutions.

In a story discussing the program, it notes that in “a six month period, the IIP convened a working group of prosecutors experienced in investigating wage theft, as well as leaders of community-based organizations that have worked closely with wage theft victims.”

“This Guide provides prosecutors with practical steps needed to effectively prosecute wage theft. It also emphasizes the need to decrease incarceration rates by encouraging restitution and other alternatives, when possible, as punishment for those who commit wage theft,” according to the article. 

IIP is taking these steps because “Wage theft is one of the most commonly committed crimes in the United States and one of the least likely to be prosecuted, costing the most vulnerable low-income wage earners millions of dollars every year,” the article explained.

The story added, “The National Employment Law Project estimated that over 4.6 million workers earning less than $13 per hour in the private sector experienced wage theft in 2019 alone. Immigrants are particularly vulnerable to wage theft.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, wage theft took on added importance, as thousands of frontline workers were unlawfully denied their pay. Historically, combatting the pervasiveness of wage theft has fallen to private civil enforcement, which has proven to be an ineffective deterrent.”

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