In an article titled Wage Theft. What Is It? How can we stop it. A book Review, John D. Atlas said:
"Recently, new worker advocacy groups have been popping up nationwide, protesting sub-minimum wage pay, unpaid work, false payroll records, overtime without time-and-a-half pay, work expenses that are not fully reimbursed and paychecks that bounce."
I left these comments:
The author is conflating two types of theft; one type against the worker, and one type against the employer.
Unpaid work, work expenses that are not fully reimbursed, or paychecks that bounce may represent breach of contract by the employer. The worker is the victim of theft, and the state rightfully should compel the employer to pay his worker restitution.
Laws that mandate a minimum level of pay and benefits that exceed what the employer would voluntarily pay his employees and what his employees would voluntarily agree to are a different type of "wage theft". Here, the employer is the victim of legalized theft—theft facilitated by his own government.
There's a lot of talk of "rights" here. But there is no right to take another's property against his will, and the state has no legitimate function in creating a "right" to do it. There is only the right to act in voluntary association and contract with others, including the rights of employers and workers to voluntarily contract to mutual benefit. If the law were just, it would protect equally the rights of all individuals to act on their own judgment in pursuit of their respective values. This means no state interference in voluntary worker/employer agreements unless someone's rights are violated, as in the case of breach of contract or fraud.
(There is actually a third, more sinister, backdoor type of theft—against the person who loses and or can't get a job because he doesn't qualify for the legal minimum compensation, and the marginal businessman who goes out of or can't start a business because he can't afford the mandated rates. The people robbed of economic opportunity are perhaps the greatest, albeit invisible, victims of these morally obscene laws.)
In the end, there is no such thing as "wage theft," except in the literal sense, as when a thug takes someone's paycheck at gunpoint, forges his signature, and cashes the check. There is only plain, old-fashioned theft. The laws should punish thieves, not facilitate theft.
"Wage theft" is a relic from Marxism, which holds that the capitalist (businessman) is an exploiter whose profits are taken from the workers. This "exploitation" theory is rooted in the materialistic idea that production is simply a matter of muscles, not brains, and that spiritual virtues (intelligence, ideas, organizational skills, etc.) have nothing to do with production.
This theory is, of course, nonsense. Intellectual labor (reason) is the source of human production, and the businessman is the highest type of laborer who is the spark that makes jobs and wages possible.
How Minimum Wage Laws Facilitate "Wage Theft"—Against Employers