Companies stealing their employees' wages sounds like a "The Grapes of Wrath" nightmare at the turn of the century, but wage theft is actually happening in 2013 in America (video below).
Because some people are so desperate to have and keep a job, some employers are taking full advantage of the tough economy.
According to AlterNet.org, billions in wages are being stolen from American workers every year.
More and more employees are being ripped off on overtime, not given their tips, robbed on payroll checks and even given checks that bounce.
Kim Bobo, the author of the book Wage Theft in America, calls it a "national crime wave."
Companies that shortchange workers, such as Walmart, Citigroup and UPS, don't go to jail, but rather pay fines, which is often seen as the price of doing business.
For example, some employees are paid for the number of items produced in a factory, but get cheated when the number of items (pay) falls under the federal minimum wage.
Some workers never get their last paycheck when they are either fired or quit.
Tip earners get ripped off when their employer illegally keeps tips or makes workers pay for their uniform or a ride to the job.
Some restaurants actually charge their employees to convert their credit card tips to cash, which is a good reason to always tip in cash.
There are also companies that intentionally misclassify workers as "independent contractors" so that they don't have to pay them overtime wages, or contributions to Social Security.
Employees are also given misleading titles such as "managers" when they really don't have that role, in order for them to work overtime without overtime pay.
It's not just blue collar construction workers or waiters who get robbed by their employers, victims also include professionals such engineers, financial advisers and adjunct professors.
The Department of Labor only has 1,000 enforcement officers to protect 135 million workers, so most workers are on their own and must turn to civil courts, if they can afford to, and sue their employers.
A video (below) about the national crisis of wage theft was produced in 2010 by Interfaith Worker Justice and the Arise Chicago Worker Center.