Though California’s minimum wage will increase to $15 an hour by 2022, wage theft is a persistent problem among low-wage workers. According to the Economic Policy Institute, employers illegally cost California workers an estimated $2 billion in earnings per year. Minimum wage employees are frequently loosing 22% of their wages, $64 a week ($3,300 annually). Legislation that took effect in 2016 allows the state to recoup stolen wages from individuals as well as corporate accounts.
English tenor Jonathan Ansell says that he and fellow performers were never paid for a 26-date 2016 tour of UK and Ireland, peforming A Night in Venice, produced by Stephen Leatherland. Noting another Leatherland production, A Viennese Strauss Gala, was being performed at Baths Hall in Scunthorpe, UK, Ansell snapped into action and made a guest appearance. Before the show began, he climbed on-stage and addressed the audience, informing them of the owed money.
“We absolutely love what we do but I think you’ll agree that this is totally unacceptable,” said Answell, who is personally owed around £10,000 ($12,500). “It’s extremely unfortunate that I’ve had to take this drastic action here tonight but I hope it goes some way to stopping this happening to anybody else ever again.”
Ansell explains that Leatherland, who runs the production company World on Stage, left performers in “such a dreadful position” that they had not been able to pay rents and mortgages.