Regarding the Nov. 23 Contract to Cheat article “ Hard work, no pay – and no help from state”: Wage theft is a very real problem in North Carolina. The News & Observer’s report highlights this critical issue: No one deserves to work for a living and not get paid. There are two related points readers should take away from this story.
First, we need laws with teeth to stop this illegal behavior. Without strong enforcement tools that make this business model of cheating too expensive to risk, bad employers will continue these dishonest practices. Some examples of tools that other states have found useful in fighting these practices are stiffer penalties, stop work orders, better cooperation between state agencies and allowing workers (particularly those misclassified as independent contractors) to enforce their rights in court.
Second, the issue of wage theft is related to, and stems from the same root as, worker misclassification. Like robbing workers of earned wages, some employers will classify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying them rightful benefits and to gain an advantage over other businesses that are playing by the rules. This needs to change.
Problems and abuses will continue unless there are serious repercussions for businesses who cheat. We all suffer as a result.