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Report: White-collar Wage Theft Examined in Maryland

From: Maryland News Connection
Length: 01:24

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BALTIMORE - Working overtime off the clock, answering employee questions during off-hours, and being classified as a lower-level employee even when acting as a manager: those are examples of "wage theft" in a new report that tracks state policies to prevent wage theft, and Maryland is like most states because it lacks protections for employees.

Default-piece-image-1 BALTIMORE - Working overtime off the clock, answering employee questions during off-hours, and being classified as a lower-level employee even when acting as a manager: those are examples of "wage theft" in a new report that tracks state policies to prevent wage theft, and Maryland is like most states because it lacks protections for employees. 

Dianne Enriquez, a coordinator with Interfaith Worker Justice, a group that watchdogs wage theft, says it's an issue that's long affected blue-collar and lower-paid employees, but has become more prevalent for white-collar workers, especially in light of the recession.

"People don't think they deserve the rights that they have. People don't understand that even though they're white-collar workers, they're actually still quite vulnerable."

The report from Progressive States Network estimates workers lose up to 15 percent of their earnings each year, on average, and Enriquez says recognition of the problem is lacking in better-paying jobs.

"The desperation of the need for work is so much, they just sort of accept that that's true - that they are independent contractors - when in reality, they've been misclassified."

She says employee protections are often rejected at the state level because they're described as "job killers" - or potentially damaging to businesses. Enriquez says the problem is, though, that when wages aren't paid, taxes are also not paid, which directly affects state budgets.

The full report, "Where Theft is Legal: Mapping Wage Theft Laws in the 50 States," is at bit.ly/LoB28N

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BALTIMORE - Working overtime off the clock, answering employee questions during off-hours, and being classified as a lower-level employee even when acting as a manager: those are examples of "wage theft" in a new report that tracks state policies to prevent wage theft, and Maryland is like most states because it lacks protections for employees. 

Dianne Enriquez, a coordinator with Interfaith Worker Justice, a group that watchdogs wage theft, says it's an issue that's long affected blue-collar and lower-paid employees, but has become more prevalent for white-collar workers, especially in light of the recession.

"People don't think they deserve the rights that they have. People don't understand that even though they're white-collar workers, they're actually still quite vulnerable."

The report from Progressive States Network estimates workers lose up to 15 percent of their earnings each year, on average, and Enriquez says recognition of the problem is lacking in better-paying jobs.

"The desperation of the need for work is so much, they just sort of accept that that's true - that they are independent contractors - when in reality, they've been misclassified."

She says employee protections are often rejected at the state level because they're described as "job killers" - or potentially damaging to businesses. Enriquez says the problem is, though, that when wages aren't paid, taxes are also not paid, which directly affects state budgets.

The full report, "Where Theft is Legal: Mapping Wage Theft Laws in the 50 States," is at bit.ly/LoB28N