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How to Protect Yourself From Wage Theft

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The occasional mistake in your paycheck is common. Most of the time, these errors can be addressed and corrected with a simple visit to the Human Resources department. But when it happens too often, there might be a more sinister reason behind it.

It’s not unheard of — some companies employ unethical or illegal business practices to reduce expenses. According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, employees lose close to $8 billion a year from wage theft alone. Although this problem occurs in all industries, it is most common in low-wage jobs.

Protect yourself and your co-workers from wage theft. Educate yourself on the different ways employers commit wage theft. The more you know about them, the easier it is to identify bad practices.

Common Forms of Wage Theft

Employers may commit wage theft in several ways. Some are more obvious than others, but they all result in cheating employees their due pay. Here are the most common forms of this crime.

Overtime

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees are entitled to overtime pay. There are only two exemptions, namely independent contractors and exempt employees (e.g. employees paid a salary that is above the minimum weekly requirement). Employees not exempted are entitled to receive overtime pay when they exceed the 40-hour workweek. Employers who don’t abide by this are committing wage theft.

Employee Misclassification

Under the FLSA, independent contractors don’t enjoy the same privileges and protection regular employees do. Independent contractors are not entitled to minimum wage, overtime pay, and employee insurance. Misclassification occurs when an employer intentionally categorizes a regular employee as an independent contractor for a tax break; this indirectly results in wage theft.

Illegal Deductions

Most employers deduct pay to compensate for employee violations. However, some do this for trivial or fabricated violations. When these deductions result in a final amount of less than the minimum wage, the employer can be charged with wage theft.

Working Off the Clock

Some employers require their employees to come in on a weekend or holiday, usually for legitimate reasons. When an employee comes in, they are entitled to additional pay. The employer’s failure to provide proper compensation is considered wage theft.

Full Wage Theft

The most blatant form of the crime, full wage theft occurs when an employer fails or refuses to pay for work done. It applies to regular employees and independent contractors. It can happen when an employer requires employees to:

  • Work overtime;,
  • Work through breaks;
  • Come in early; or
  • Leave late.

By learning more about wage theft, you gain a better understanding of your rights as an employee. Everyone is entitled to fair pay. If you think you or your co-workers are victims of this crime, talk to a legal professional.

Haffner Law will help you make sense of the situation. We are prepared to go to court to make sure you and your co-workers are given your due. Call us at 1-844-HAFFNER (423-3637) to schedule a consultation.

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