Wage Theft

Studies have found inflated rates of wage theft violations in markets employing foreign-born populations.

Business owners in immigrant communities are notorious for not paying their employees properly, assuming that said employees are either just grateful to have any kind of paying job and/or are not familiar enough with the laws of the United States to realize that they are being subjected to what is considered highly illegal practices.

In the Filipino American community, a case of wage theft was filed by the U.S. Department of Labor against June Francis Rono’s Barrio Fiesta Restaurant, the resulting settlement of which ordered the payment of back wages to Filipino employees.

On the East Coast, a wage-theft lawsuit was filed by an employee against Jersey City’s Phil Am Food (now known as Filstop) on behalf of what he estimated to be hundreds of employees denied overtime wages over the years.


Laws such as the FLSA are meant to cover every worker, regardless of immigration status. Despite the fact that this law has been in effect since 2009, studies and research of low-wage workers all over the US, in particular immigrants, reveal the high prevalence of wage theft—the failure to pay workers the wages that are owed to them.


Undocumented immigrants are in a particular bind, because employers can threaten to expose their immigration status if they complain about wage theft or other abuses. For example, the Huffington Post reported that an undocumented worker working at Quick Pita at the International Trade Center in D.C. publicly claimed that his boss had been violating the labor law. The Guatemala native shared that he was paid under the table, earned $6.50 per hour his first year and $7 his second year—both of which are below D.C.’s minimum wage rate of $8.25 — all while working more than 40 hours per week without the overtime pay he should have received by law. Shortly after, he was turned over to immigration officials and spent four days in detention, and now is waiting for his immigration hearing, after which he may be deported.

In 2009, NPR reported that an employee at a family-friendly chicken place in New York City earned $25 for an eight-hour shift—this is less than half of New York’s minimum wage for waiters. He also worked several 12-hour days yet received no overtime. Another employee claimed that he was paid in cash and worked more than 80 hours a week.

What is wage theft?

Wage theft is the illegal practice of not paying workers for all of their work including: violating minimum wage laws, not paying overtime, forcing workers to work off the clock, employee misclassification, anomalous pay deductions, et cetera. It is a serious problem in communities where the population is of foreign origin.

Education, longer tenured employment, and English proficiency proved to be influential factors in employee populations. All three variables reduced the probability of wage theft for the aforementioned demographics. Workplaces where the compensation was paid in one weekly flat rate or in cash saw a higher instance rate of wage theft. Smaller businesses with less than 100 employees also saw a higher instance rate of violations than larger business.


In one study, the manufacturing industry, repair services, and private home employment were at the highest risk for violations at the workplace. Home health care, education, and construction saw the lowest levels of wage theft. Restaurants, grocery stores, retail, and warehousing fell around the median.

Ano ang “Wage Theft”?

Ito ay Pagnanakaw ng Sahod.

Kung ang empleyado ay hindi binabayaran ng nararapat ng sahod sa ilalim ng batas, lalo na pagdating sa minimum wage o overtime, ito ay tinatawag na Wage Theft. Maaaring magsampa ng kaso ang empleyado at ang negosyong gumawa nito ay matatanggalan ng lisensyang magnegosyo sa Jersey City.

If you are an employee of PhilAm Food and would like to file a complaint, please do not be afraid to come forward.

You can call the Division of Wage & Hour Compliance at (609) 292-2305 or (609) 695-1174. Please note down as many details as you remember. This will later help in filing a federal lawsuit against them.

Kung ikaw ay naging biktima ng wage theft habang namamasukan sa PhilAm Food o PhilAm Merchandising, huwag mag-atubiling magsumbong sa Division of Wage & Hour Compliance. Ang kanilang mga numero ng telepono: (609) 292-2305 at (609) 695-1174

Isulat ang lahat ng iyong natatandaan — lalo na ang mga petsa, oras na tinabraho, halaga ng sahod, at pangalan ng mga may kinalaman. Makatutulong ito sa iyong pagsampa ng kaso sa korte. Madaling makahanap ng abugado na makatutulong sa ganitong klase ng kaso.



Information in Tagalog (PDF)

U.S. Labor Department sues Filipino care home owners for wage theft

Having exhausted all attempts to reach a settlement, the U.S. Department of Labor sued a Filipino-owned Silicon Valley residential care provider charging the owners with gross violations of federal wage and hour regulations.

The Department of Labor is seeking to recover the back wages and damages owed to 22 employees for the substantial hours worked at substandard pay. All the employees are Filipino.

The department accuses the defendants of having either paid the workers for only eight hours of work per day, or paid them a flat daily rate that did not account for all hours worked. As a result, the workers’ hourly rate has been less than the federal minimum wage.

Specifically, the workers employed in the facilities routinely work and have worked more than 40 hours per week, but defendants have not compensated them at time and one-half the regular rate at which they were employed for all hours worked in excess of 40.