Shoplifting & wage theft (Day 40)

Shoplifting losses were estimated at $17.6 Billion dollars in 2016. Shoplifting is a criminal offense, with fairly steep fines and possible jail time. Being criminal, it also means the government picks up the cost of running through the legal system (and also ends up on one’s criminal record, with a variety of almost entirely negative consequences)

Wage Theft was estimated at just over $20 billion dollars in 2016, although that estimate is far less accurate; the actual number is likely to be much higher. Wage theft includes anything where workers aren’t paid as much as (or anything) they’ve earned. It ranges from violating minimum wage/overtime laws to simply not paying employees or contractors for work at all.

Wage theft is almost entirely handled as a civil matter: this means that, for the most part, the injured party pays the cost of going through the justice system to get the problem remedied. And there’s no criminal consequences.

I find the specific details and issues interesting by themselves. However, we are inconsistently handling legal issues with extreme similarities to one another in a way that disproportionately harms individuals, especially those with very limited capability to legally defend themselves.

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