During our testimony for the Illinois Fighting Wage Theft Act (SB1720), we were challenged on our assertion that wage theft was widespread. While it’s probably true that most businesses are ethical and properly pay their employees, it’s much less true for low-wage workers:

  • Teacher assistants
  • Security guards
  • General construction
  • Waiters, cafeteria workers & bartenders
  • Stock & office clerks
  • Home health care workers
  • Maids & housekeepers
  • Personal & repair services workers
  • Cashiers, retail salespersons & tellers
  • Building services & grounds workers
  • Child care workers
  • Cooks, dishwashers & food preparers
  • Factory & packaging workers

A detailed University of Illinois – Chicago study* found that, in just one week in Cook County, which includes Chicago:

  • 26% of these workers were paid less than the legal wage
    • Of those, 60%+ were underpaid by over $1/hour
  • 67% of those who worked overtime didn’t get paid the legal OT rate
  • 43% of workers entitled to a meal break didn’t get the full break
  • 45% of workers didn’t get required pay documentation
  • 44% of workers experience illegal pay deductions
  • 15% of tipped workers weren’t paid the legal wage

Oh, and that map at the top? Each dot is an Illinois city or town where an employer was found guilty of wage theft by the US Department of Labor. There are 631 of them.

*Unregulated Work in Chicago: The Breakdown of Workplace Protections in the Low-Wage Labor Market”