Key Policy Issues

Wage Theft

Wage Theft is a Crime. Don’t Let it Happen to You.

We have a strong track record fighting against wage theft in the construction industry. Since 2008, the III FFC has recouped over $5.2 million in back wages for construction workers across our jurisdiction. Not paying the prevailing wage is one of the most common forms of wage theft in the public construction industry. We are here to make sure workers are paid what they are legally required.

What is wage theft?

Wage theft occurs when employers do not pay workers according to the law. Common examples of wage theft include paying less than the minimum wage, not paying workers overtime, not allowing workers to take meal and rest breaks, requiring off the clock work, or taking workers’ tips.

In efforts to reduce costs, employers often misclassify employees – either as independent contractors or by misclassifying a worker’s status, position, or title at work – and avoid paying owed wages and fringe benefits to their employees.

In the construction industry, many public works construction projects—or projects where government agencies are the project owner and buyer—require the payment of prevailing wages to workers employed on the projects.

In these cases, wage theft can take the form of failing to pay workers the prevailing wage but also could be more nefarious and complex, such as fringe benefit fund schemes that cheat workers out of their hard-earned healthcare and retirement accounts.

What does wage theft look like in the construction industry?

Why is wage theft bad?

Wage theft is a crime against workers and taxpayers. In addition to cheating the men and women that build our country’s infrastructure out of their hard-earned pay, construction companies that employ wage theft strategies also create unfair advantages over competitors that comply with the law. If a firm is able to illegally lower their labor costs (by stealing from their employees), they can routinely out-bid competitors, which creates a strong financial incentive for companies to engage in these practices. This has negative consequences for local businesses, construction workers, and their communities.

What are the most common ways wage theft is experienced in the construction industry?

Wage theft is a pervasive problem in the U.S. construction industry. These are some common ways wage theft is experienced in the construction industry.


A construction worker works on a federal project where Davis-Bacon prevailing wage rates apply to all workers. The construction worker is not paid the Davis-Bacon wage rate. This is wage theft.


A construction worker works 30 hours on an excavator, which is classified at an operating engineer rate, and 10 hours as a flagperson to direct traffic, which is classified at a laborers rate. The construction worker is paid 40 hours at the lower flagperson rate. This is wage theft.


A construction worker works 40 hours, but their employer only pays 20 hours into their fringe benefits and retirement. This is wage theft.

Form Panel

Are you experiencing wage theft?

Wage theft is a crime. If you're experiencing wage theft on a public construction project, we can help. Fill out the form and we will contact you!

Wage theft facts:


Are undocumented immigrants entitled to overtime pay and a minimum wage?

Yes. Even if someone is not authorized to work in the United States, they are protected from wage theft under the Fair Labor Standards Act. They can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor to recover unpaid wages, and they can sue their employer in federal court.

I am a victim of wage theft. What can I do?

We can fight back. Wage theft is a felony crime and can be prosecuted in a court of law—just like any other form of theft. The III FFC’s team of field analysts and attorneys are knowledgeable and ready to help workers receive what’s owed to them. Contact us today to see how we can help. Email: [email protected] Phone: 815-254-3332