Catherine Rampell wants to criminalize wage theft:
“Wage theft” is an old problem. It can take many forms, including paying less than the minimum hourly wage, working employees off the clock, not paying required overtime rates and shifting hours into the next pay period so that overtime isn’t incurred. Unfortunately, reliable data on the magnitude of the problem are scarce. Workers can be afraid to report the theft for fear of losing their jobs altogether, especially in today’s terrible economy, and many don’t know their rights. Often workers don’t even realize their pay is being skimmed. …
The consequences for wage theft are rare, small and not particularly deterring. Even when government investigators pursue these complaints, for example, criminal charges are rarely filed. Harsher penalties, including prison time, should be on the table more often when willful wrongdoing is proved. Thieves caught stealing thousands of dollars from someone’s home can go to jail; the same should be true for thieves caught stealing thousands of dollars from someone’s paycheck.
Kathleen Geier approves:
Though some people might argue that hard time for the wage thieves is a harsh penalty, I’m not one of them. We call this practice “theft” because that is what it is. Just as anti-choicers who refer to abortion as “murder” should either embrace the logic of their own argument and support prison time for women who undergo abortions, or abandon the use of the “murder” label altogether when applied to abortion, the opponents of wage theft should stand firmly in favor of prison sentences for those convicted of this sleazy, bottom-feeding crime.