In the last eight years both the Washington Legislature and the Seattle City Council passed laws to address wage theft, which happens when employers withhold wages or deny benefits rightfully owed to an employee. It's a misdemeanor under city and state law. And yet in hundreds of cases annually, InvestigateWest learned, Washington fails to retrieve workers' shorted wages. Meanwhile, the city ordinance has yet to bring about even a single prosecution of employers who withhold pay. The Washington Department of Labor & Industries has sped up wage complaint investigations over the past several years, yet four in 10 cases take longer than the legally mandated 60 days. And the department collects less than $6 out of every $10 it says workers are owed, an analysis of state records by InvestigateWest found. These shortfalls reported by InvestigateWest threaten to undermine a flagship achievement of worker advocates and Seattle city leadership: the new $15-an-hour city minimum wage that will begin to go into effect this year.