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By Myron Levin, Stuart Silverstein and Lilly Fowler, FairWarning 

Warehouse workers protest in Illinois  Photo: (Peoplesworld/Flickr/Creative Commons)

Warehouse workers protest in Illinois Photo: (Peoplesworld/Flickr/Creative Commons)

For workers stuck on the bottom rung, living on poverty wages is hard enough. But many also are victims of wage theft, a catch-all term for payroll abuses that cheat workers of income they are supposedly guaranteed by law.

Over the last few years employers ranging from baseball’s San Francisco Giants to Subway franchises to Farmers Insurance have been cited for wage violations. More often, though, wage abuses are not reported by victims or punished by authorities despite being routine in some low-wage industries.

“If you steal from your employer, you’re going to be hauled out of the workplace in handcuffs,” said Kim Bobo, a Chicago workers rights advocate and author. “But if your employer steals from you, you’ll be lucky to get your money back.”