Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring earlier this month announced a Worker Protection Unit to focus on misclassification of workers as independent contractors as well as wage theft and payroll fraud.

Misclassification, payroll fraud and wage theft are all instances of business owners and managers stealing from employees, Herring said in a statement.

“For way too long, Virginia’s weak worker protection laws have made it way too easy for business managers, owners and labor brokers to cheat their workers and cheat the commonwealth,” Herring said. “Managers and owners hope that workers won’t notice that they’re being stolen from, or will simply be too afraid to complain because they don’t want to lose their job or worse.”

Herring’s office cited a 2012 report that found up to one-third of employers in some industries misclassify workers as independent contractors. As a result, Virginia’s state income tax collection was lowered by as much as $28 million per year.