Rightfully Yours:  5 Common Wage Theft Methods

Every year, people work hard to earn a fair wage. However, every year, employers steal an average of $3,300 from every full-time worker in America through various wage theft schemes. Some of the most common ones are described below. Many employers undertake these schemes because, in most states, prosecutors do not pursue these cases very aggressively. Even if employers are caught, the laws in most states are so weak that they only face small fines.

Since policymakers and bureaucrats are evidently unwilling to stand up for workers, a wage theft lawyer must fill in the gap. These victims may be entitled to significant compensation. Furthermore, an attorney shines light in darkness. So, unscrupulous employers are less inclined to steal wages from other workers.

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Overtime Pay

The Fair Labor Standards Act states that most employees who work more than forty hours in a week are entitled to time-and-a-half for additional hours. Some states, like California, have even stricter laws. But the FLSA exempts some employees. These categories are somewhat vague. Although courts often side with workers, many employers believe that it’s worth the risk to bend the rules. According to the statistic cited above, it appears that many times, the risk is indeed worth taking. Only aggressive legal actions reverses the cycle.

Tips

Shared tips are an issue at many restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality-oriented businesses. Tipped employees depend on this income. Although most workers are generous at heart and gladly share their tips with servers’ assistants and other customer-facing workers, back-office managers must keep their hands out of the tip jars.

Furthermore, employees who receive tips are still entitled to the minimum wage. Therefore, employers are legally required to pay tipped employees at least $2.13 an hour, in order to make up the difference. But a large number of employers simply refuse to pay their share.

Misclassification

This is another area where employers refuse to pay their fair share. Regular employees are responsible for only about half their payroll taxes; the boss picks up the other half. But independent contractors are responsible for the entire tax burden. As if that wasn’t incentive enough to misclassify, most state workers’ compensation plans do not count independent contractors for premium purposes. The fewer employees, the lower the monthly payments. The employer illegally saves money and the workers get the bills.

Illegal Deductions

Sometimes, an employer deducts too much from a worker’s paycheck instead of not enough. Then, the boss pockets the difference. Some employers deduct for minor behavioral infractions or they create illegal deductions. Other times, the deductions are valid, but they bring a worker’s paycheck below the minimum wage.

Outright Theft

Many employers do things like make their workers wait in long lines at the start or end of a shift, or they make their employees keep working through breaks. The former is in a legal grey area, and the latter is clearly illegal. Outright wage theft is especially common in places that hire undocumented or under-documented workers. Employers feel that they can bully these workers into not reporting the theft. But America’s civil courts are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status.

If your paycheck is not what it should be, contact a lawyer today.

FG Editorial Team
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