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States Fail to Enforce the Minimum Wage

A 9 month study by Politico found rampant disregard for enforcing their minimum wage laws

Kris LaGrange's picture
Feb 20, 2018

An explosive new study by Politico was issued today that finds many states are failing to enforce their minimum wage laws, causing millions of low wage workers to lose out on millions in needed income.

The nine-month study found that six states do not have any investigators who handle minimum wage violations and another 26 states had fewer than 10 investigators. These 32 states have thousands of potential cases that never get investigated. Politico estimates that $15 billion in wages are lost due to these claims not being investigated.

The study also found that even when these cases are investigated and the employee gets a judgment against their employer, 41% of employees never see a dime as the states don’t follow up to make sure that the wages are recovered.

Even at the Federal level workers don’t fare much better. Although the Department of Labor boasts that 90% of their judgments against employers end with employees collecting back pay, that number has come into question. In 2009, the Government Accountability Office found that the Bush administration ordered the Wage and Hour division to not record unsuccessful cases. It wasn’t just Bush that was fudging the numbers. In 2015 the Office of the Inspector General found that the Wage and Hour division often did not make a reasonable effort to track down employees who had won back pay. On average $16 million of back wages were returned to the Treasury.

Click here to read the full report.

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