Many do not think about wage theft by employers, but a study found that 2.4 million workers in the ten most populated states lost $8 billion of income each year due to wage theft. This is about $64 per worker each week for a yearly total of $3,300. In California alone, the Department of Labor says there are 372,000 violations each week where employers are not paying the minimum wage.
Common examples of wage theft
There are many kinds of wage theft:
- Employers who take employee tips
- Employers who illegally take money out of employees’ paychecks
- Requiring employees to work off the clock
- Labeling employees contractors when they should be employees
- Not paying overtime
- Not paying minimum wage
- Denying employees breaks for meals
Lower wage employees are particularly vulnerable. Examples of this include those who work in restaurants – they may find it hard to schedule breaks during a busy time, but workers must get breaks. Moreover, managers and owners should never take or share tips.
Employers think they can get away with it
The sad fact is that some employers do not care or believe that they can get away with stealing wages. Moreover, underpaid employees, particularly those earning minimum wage, may not think that they have the right to fight these greedy bosses. These companies should be reported to the state’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency or the federal Department of Labor, but an experienced employment law attorney can also fight these companies and their owners, forcing them to pay back wages and can even argue for large fines in court.