America’s Fair Pay for Workers: Check If You’re Owed a Portion of $163 Million in Back Wages

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The US Department of Labor revealed that more than 208,000 workers are owed $163.3 million in back pay due to wage law violations by companies nationwide.

Despite efforts to disburse these rightful earnings, a substantial sum, held for over three years, remains unclaimed and is at risk of reverting to the US Treasury.

Last fiscal year, the Labor Department allocated $26.9 million in back pay to more than 3,972 workers through the Workers Owed Wages website. 

However, thousands have yet to step forward to claim their entitled wages, often due to changes in employment or address, rendering them difficult to locate.

Jessica Looman, the department’s wage and hour administrator, highlighted the priority of ensuring prompt payment of recovered wages to deserving workers. 

However, the challenge lies in reaching those owed, many of whom belong to underserved groups like young workers, migrants, and individuals earning near minimum wage.

The Workers Owed Wages Site Is a Vital Tool

america's-fair-pay-for-workers-check-if-you're-owed-a-portion-of-$163-million-in-back-wages
The US Department of Labor revealed that more than 208,000 workers are owed $163.3 million in back pay due to wage law violations by companies nationwide.

Industries with substantial unclaimed back wages include food service, healthcare, and construction, where a considerable number of employees are owed earnings left uncollected by previous employers. 

Pennsylvania leads in outstanding back pay, totaling over $19 million, with California, Texas, Massachusetts, and Virginia following suit in the states with the most unclaimed wages, accumulating a staggering $74 million collectively.

Florida, the third most populous state in the US, accounts for over 10,000 employees owed $6.17 million in back wages. 

Lissette Vargas, acting district director of the Labor Department’s wage and hour division, emphasized that violations span various federal laws, encompassing minimum wage, overtime, child labor, and Family and Medical Leave Act provisions.

The Labor Department continues to offer resources and guidance to individuals who suspect wage theft or are uncertain about their rights. 

The Workers Owed Wages website serves as a critical tool for individuals to verify if their current or past employers are listed and ascertain if they are among those owed rightful compensation.

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