Most people go to work because they need the money they earn there. The basis of the employer-employee relationship is the contract that the employee will do the work and the employer will pay the wages. If your employer doesn’t hold up its end of the agreement, then you’re suffering from wage theft.
Wage theft occurs when an employer doesn’t pay all the wages you’re owed. Anything your employer does to get you to work more without being paid for it is considered wage theft. The most well-known types are simply withholding pay entirely or changing timesheets to show fewer hours.
Still, there are many other ways employers may try to avoid paying you in full. Here are four lesser-known but widespread types of wage theft that you might be facing right now.
State and federal laws mandate that companies pay most employees time-and-a-half overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. Employers can’t “average out” time over multiple weeks, so if you work 50 hours one week and 30 the next, you should still receive 10 hours of overtime during that pay period. If you don’t, then your employer is stealing from you.
Furthermore, employers can’t require you to work when you’re not being paid. If your employer requires you to clock out and then keep working, they’re stealing the wages you’d earn in that time.
Employers are permitted to deduct funds for federal and state income taxes and court-ordered wage garnishments from your paycheck. However, they can’t deduct money from your check for any other reason. This means that they can’t remove wages from your check for reasons like:
- Lost or damaged equipment
- Money missing from a till
- Product shrinkage
People rely on their regular paychecks to pay bills and cover living expenses. When you agree to work for a company, they promise to pay you on a set schedule. The company can only change your payment schedule with advanced notice. Employers can’t delay paychecks on purpose for any reason, including punishment or budgetary reasons. Delaying compensation on purpose is considered the same as withholding it entirely, so it’s legally theft.
Missing Breaks and Meals
The most common type of employer theft is easy to miss. In most states, you’re legally owed paid breaks and meal periods if you work more than a set number of hours in a row. If your employer encourages you to skip these breaks or doesn’t provide them in the first place, they’re stealing your time. You’re owed that time, and being forced to work through it is unfair.
Take Control Over Your Pay
Too many people suffer from wage theft and don’t realize it. Your employer has a duty to pay you everything you’re owed. If they don’t fulfill that duty, then you’re within your rights to fight back. Reach out to an experienced workers’ rights attorney today to discuss your situation. You can start the process to receive what you’re owed today.