Shawn Grant – work-in-progress

Poverty intersects with so many areas of law. In my BUS 110 course I plan to “sprinkle” discussions of poverty throughout the course.  We will discuss impacts on low-income and poverty impacted populations as we analyze certain policies, legislation and case law.  We will also address the roles of corporate social responsibility, corporate social activism and the role of business in perpetuating poverty.

Topic:  Wage Theft

In addition to discussion of the law and legal cases, we may also briefly explore song, and poetry regarding wage theft.  Some resources I might use are:

Minimum Wage (Matthew Dickman)

My mother and I are on the front porch lighting
each other’s cigarettes
as if we were on a ten-minute break from our jobs
at being a mother and son,
just ten minutes to steal a moment
of freedom before clocking back in,
before putting the aprons back on, the paper hats,
washing our hands twice and then standing
behind the counter again,
hoping for tips, hoping the customers
will be nice, will say some kind word, the cool
front yard before us and the dogs
in the back yard shitting on everything.
We are hunched over, two extras
on the set of “The Night of the Hunter.” I am pulling
a second cigarette out of the pack,
a swimmer rising from a pool of other swimmers.
Soon we will go back inside and sit
in the yellow kitchen and drink the rest of the coffee
and what is coming to kill us will pour milk into mine
and sugar into hers. Some kitchens
are full of mothers and sons with no mouths, no eyes,
and no hands, but our mouths are like the mouths of fire-
eaters and our eyes are like the million
eyes of flies. Our hands are like the hands of the living.

Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)  (Marvin Gay)

Ese Guey No Paga (That Dude Doesn’t Pay)

Learning objectives:

Students Will

  • 1.    Understand one way businesses play a role in perpetuating poverty
  • 2. Define wage theft and identify its impact, particularly on low-wage workers
  • 3. Discuss the history and role of the Fair Labor Standards Act
  • 4. Analyze rampant wage theft during the COVID-19 pandemic

(1) Question: What is the most prevalent property crime in the U.S.? Students will post their answers on the jam board and I will call on a few students to share their answers and explain their reasoning. From that point, we will discuss wage theft as one of the most prevalent property crimes in the U.S., exceeding instances of car theft, burglary and larceny, and disproportionately affecting millions of low-wage workers in fields with high percentages of women and POC.  Across the country employers steal billions of dollars from worker’s pay checks every year—most face no consequences. 

(2)  Competing in Teams, students will engage in a game called “Is it Wage Theft?” in which they will review various scenarios to identify whether wage theft is taking place. (Kahoot, Quizizz or another game based learning platform)

(3) In Small Group (break-out rooms) students will discuss and share their own experiences with wage theft.  Volunteers will share out to the whole class at the end of the Zoom session.

(4)  Some wage theft is obvious (e.g. asking employees to work off the clock). We will review a pay stub to uncover “hidden” wage theft.

(5)  We will discuss how workers and employees can take action to take to end wage theft.

NOTE: My position is to really include the topics of poverty and race throughout my course rather than one module.




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