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Murray, DeLauro, Scott Introduce Bill to Stop Wage Theft and Improve Wage Recovery

Senator Murray: “No worker should ever be cheated out of the hard-earned pay they have worked for—it’s as simple as that.”


(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA-03), Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act, comprehensive legislation to put hard-earned wages back in workers’ pockets and crack down on employers who unfairly withhold wages from their employees. This bill would give workers the right to receive full compensation for the work they perform, as well as the right to receive regular paystubs and final paychecks in a timely manner.


“No worker should ever be cheated out of the hard-earned pay they have worked for—it’s as simple as that,” said Senator Murray. “That’s why I’m proud to join my colleagues to reintroduce the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act, which strengthens federal protections to make sure all workers are paid for the work they’ve done—and can fully recover wages their employers have stolen from them. It’s time we pass this commonsense bill and ensure workers across the country get paid what they’ve earned.”

“Simply put, the biggest economic challenge currently affecting workers across the country is that they are in jobs that do not pay them enough to survive. People are struggling. Every day, countless workers are punching in and working long hours for an honest day’s pay only to have their employers cheat them out of their wages. That is inexcusable, and Congress has the responsibility to act to ensure hard-working people receive their hard-earned wages,”
 said Congresswoman DeLauro. “The Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act is comprehensive legislation that will strengthen current federal law and empower employees to recover their lost wages. Whether it is compensation for a day’s work or overtime, employees should be paid what they earn. This legislation puts workers first and boosts economic security for families while helping our economy grow.”

“It is unacceptable that dishonest employers can steal workers’ wages with little to no consequence. Each year, our most vulnerable workers are cheated out of billions of dollars. We cannot grow the middle class or expect workers to confidently return to the workforce when we don’t even have adequate deterrents to prevent wage theft,”
said Chairman Scott. “Workers and employers must be able to trust that our labor laws will hold unscrupulous employers accountable for violating the law and help workers recover the wages stolen from them. This bill would take critical steps to help workers receive the full pay they’ve earned for all hours worked, including overtime pay, and level the playing field for law-abiding employers.”


Across the country, people work long hours, expecting proper compensation, only to have their employers withhold their wages. While many employers act honestly and treat workers fairly, too many others force their employees to work off the clock, refuse to pay workers the minimum wage, deny workers overtime pay even after they work more than 40 hours a week, or steal workers’ tips.


Unscrupulous employers steal an estimated $50 billion per year from workers’ legally owed earnings by committing a variety of minimum wage, overtime, off-the-clock, tip, and meal-break violations. These illegal practices, known as “wage theft,” disproportionately harm low-wage workers and amplify poverty. Wage theft is also widespread. For those with at least 10 years in the workforce, nearly 40 percent describe experiencing wage theft at some point in their careers.  As many as 35 percent of tipped workers, and 17 percent of low-wage workers generally, report being paid less than the prevailing local minimum wage in their state. Worse, 46 percent of tipped workers in service industries say they are not compensated at the legally required “time-and-a-half” rate for overtime work.


The Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act would strengthen fundamental protections to allow workers to receive the full compensation they have earned, and it will crack down on corporations that subject workers to these abuses. Taking these steps will help ensure our economy works better for all Americans, not just the wealthiest few.

The bill would help combat wage theft and improve wage recovery by:

  • Strengthening workers’ right to fair pay and improving employer accountability
  • Increasing deterrence of and penalties for wage theft violations
  • Bolstering recovery of workers’ stolen wages
  • Expanding workers’ rights to their employment records


A section-by-section summary of the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act can be found here.


A fact sheet on the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act can be found here.