Wage Theft

Wage theft is the denial of wages or employee benefits that are rightfully owed to an employee. Wage theft can be conducted through various means such as: failure to pay overtime, minimum wage violations, employee mis-classification, illegal deductions in pay, working off the clock, or not being paid at all.


  • Expand the current City of Houston wage theft ordinance and increase financial penalties to all private employers within city limits, not just city contractors
  • The law must include broad protections for workers, including a broad presumption that adverse action within 90 days of a complaint is unlawful retaliation.
  • To discourage wage theft on a broader scale, employers who violate the law, especially repeat violators, must be required to pay more than just wages due; they must also pay penalties. Effective penalties should be of an amount sufficient to discourage employers from engaging in wage theft.
  • When employers fail to keep proper employment records, a worker’s testimony about their rate of pay and hours worked should be presumed true. This means that, unless an employer comes forward with compelling evidence to the contrary, the employee’s records and testimony about-hours and working dates should be considered true by the court or administrative judge. This eliminates the moral hazard employers currently face, where it may be in their interest to disregard record keeping requirements


Texas Constitution
Code – Labor
Chapter – 61 Payment of Wages
Section – 61.019 Failure to Pay Wages; Criminal Penalty

Code – Penal Code
Chapter – 31 Theft
Section – 31.04 Theft of Service


El Paso Times – Editorial: El Paso can lead on wage theft prevention

Next City – Berkeley Makes History With Wage Theft Ordinance

Next City – Houston City Council Passes Wage Theft Ordinance

Next City – Congress Dems Want to Tackle Wage Theft Nationwide

Next City – Wage Theft Hotline Hits Home With California Port Drivers

Think Progress – Houston Cracks Down On Employers Who Steal Workers’ Wages

Think Progress – Florida County Makes It Easier For Workers To Get Unpaid Wages From Bosses

Think Progress – Wage Theft Allegations At Walmart Subcontractor Lead To Big Settlement

Texas Tribune – Texas Cities Step Up Prosecutions of Wage Theft

Texas Tribune – Texas Officials Announce Crackdown on Wage Theft

Texas Observer – El Paso Becomes Second City to Indict Employer for Wage Theft

Economic Policy Institute – New legislation could help end wage theft epidemic

Philly Voice – Philly’s new wage theft ordinance is now in effect

LA Times – Will L.A. put money behind wage theft crackdown?

Chicago Tribune – Cook County OKs ordinance to combat wage theft

CLASP – Chicago City Council Unanimously Passes Strong Anti-Wage Theft Ordinance

New York Times – Enforcement Is Next Task for Law on Wage Theft

New York Times – More Workers Are Claiming ‘Wage Theft’

Washington Post – If politicians care about a rigged system, it’s time to address wage theft

Al Jazeera – How some minimum wage workers are robbed by their employers

Salon – Fast food pulls a fast one: Wage theft rampant at McDonald’s and more

Salon – How corporations get away with rampant wage theft

Salon – Houston crackdown: City defies Texas corporate crime wave

Houston Chronicle – Council gives wage theft ordinance unanimous passage

Houston Chronicle – Wage save for workers

Houston Chronicle – Workers file 1st complaint under city wage theft law

Salon – Houston crackdown: City defies Texas corporate crime wave

Policy Matters Ohio – Cincinnati anti-wage theft law is a model for Ohio

Chelsea Council Becomes First City Council in MA to Take Action on Private Sector Wage Theft

Business Journal – Sea Salt ‘wage theft’ case serves as a cautionary tale for businesses

USA Today – Cincinnati first Ohio city to pass wage theft ordinance

Osceola Gazette – Much-discussed wage theft ordinance passes

Mother Jones – Tyson Foods Wants the Supreme Court to Block Its Employees From Suing for Wage Theft

NPR – Construction Booming In Texas, But Many Workers Pay Dearly

Houston Free Press – Unpaid Tips and Wages in Restaurants: How Common Is It?

Seattle Times – Seattle takes aim at wage theft; first 3 years of law came up empty

The Daily Beast – The Very Real Scourge of Wage Theft

The Week – One of the biggest crime waves in America isn’t what you think it is

Tampa Bay Times – St. Petersburg’s wage-theft program has slow start, needs tweaks

Slate – I Sold Concessions at the Super Bowl. Now I’m Suing for the Workers Whose Wages Were Stolen There

Austin Chronicle – Then There’s This: Working Man of Green Gables

New Brunswick Today – Wage Theft Ordinance Yields Results For Disenfranchised Workers

US News – Settlements totaling $12M-plus reached in minimum wage cases

San Jose Looks to Strengthen Wage Theft Ordinance

Brownsville Herald – Wage-theft victory aims to encourage fight against rights’ abuse

The Monitor – Wage theft, an issue that affects all of us

Gothamist – NYC Passes First Freelancer Wage Theft Protections In The Nation

NPR – First El Paso Conviction Secured Under Texas Wage Theft Law

Houston’s Attempt To Curb Wage Theft