Organize. Build Power. Win Justice.

Wage Theft 413

We call on city council to pass a wage-theft ordinance to:

  • Require employers to comply with existing labor laws in order to renew or obtain their business licenses;
  • and Protect all Northampton workers, regardless of industry and legal status, from wage-theft.

This campaign is a part of a larger struggle to build worker power in the pioneer valley.

Read the report to learn about the experiences of workers in Northampton and hear our policy recommendations on how to improve working conditions for all Northampton workers.


Common Questions

What is wage theft?

Wage theft is a particularly prevalent problem in the restaurant industry. Wage  theft occurs when employers violate established wage and hour laws and as a result workers receive  less money than they are owned.

How can workers recognize wage theft?

In the restaurant industry, wage theft occurs in a number of ways.

  • Working off-the-clock by coming in early or staying late and not being paid for all of your time is a form of wage theft.
  • When workers aren't  paid overtime for hours worked over 40 hours per week.
  • When a tipped worker performs work besides table service but only receives the tipped minimum wage they are experiencing a form of wage theft
  • Additionally, workers who receive a flat weekly pay regardless of hours worked may also be experiencing wage theft if their hourly rate is below the minimum wage.

If you have any concerns about working conditions at your place of employment, contact the Workers Center by email or call the office to talk to a staff person at 413-570-3060.

What can consumers do to help?

There are many ways that you can have an impact and help us stop wage theft:

“This is a community with a plethora of locally owned businesses with a commitment to sustainability and ethically, locally grown food...For this industry to reach its full potential, jobs and restaurants need to have that same kind of commitment to fair wages.”

Clare Hammonds

“Northampton keeps a really good secret, behind those kitchen doors, most of the workers are undocumented.”

Bess Hepner, Restaurant Worker

"I have been shocked to learn that there’s other restaurants in town that employ people who aren’t legally allowed to work in the U.S. or pay below the minimum wage. That’s not a reality for me, and I’m surprised to learn that’s a reality in other businesses.”

Adam Dunetz, Owner

“It’s not only me. It’s other people who I know, my friends, my coworkers at the restaurant — most don’t make minimum wage.”

Lin Geng, Restaurant Worker