At a time when billionaire extraordinaire Elon Musk is dominating headlines along with his multi-billion-dollar shopping for spree, there may be one other story price billions that’s curiously absent from our Twitter feeds. Sadly, relatively than recount the spending of riches, this story tells the story of one of many biggest thefts in American historical past.
Each hour, thousands and thousands of staff all through the US endure from probably the most insidious crimes that no person is speaking about: Wage theft. Final December, the Financial Coverage Institute (“EPI”) reported that over $3 billion in stolen wages was recovered for staff between 2017 and 2020. Nonetheless, these wages have been recovered solely after workers found the theft and reported it – in actuality, the quantity in wages employers steal from their staff is far, a lot larger. For instance, the EPI has estimated that staff throughout the nation are topic to over $15 billion in stolen wages annually for minimal wage violations alone.
Whereas it may be onerous to consider, wage theft is prevalent in all places, even within the largest and richest workplaces in America. Whether or not you’re employed within the C-suite or nook grocery retailer, it’s price asking your self a easy query: Am I being paid appropriately?
Examples of Wage Theft
Wage theft is available in many shapes, sizes, and class. There are lots of ways and strategies that employers use which might be merely not straightforward to detect by workers. Examples of wage theft can embody:
- Working “off the clock” or not being paid all the time labored;
- Unlawful deductions from wages, wage, commissions, or different pay;
- Improperly altering timesheets, putting time, or docking pay;
- Time clock rounding or “time shaving” that isn’t impartial and disfavors the worker;
- Not being compensated at the very least the minimal wage for all hours labored;
- Being misclassified as additional time exempt;
- Working by meal breaks which might be routinely deducted from workers’ time;
- Being misclassified as an unbiased contractor;
- Not receiving a closing paycheck after separation from the employer;
- Not receiving agreed-upon wages;
- Not receiving wages in a well timed method;
- Tip-sharing and tip-pooling violations;
- Failure to pay for time spent donning and doffing gear and gear;
- Failing to pay for journey time throughout regular work hours; and
- Not paying for distant work.
These are simply a few of the many strategies employers can use to steal wages from their workers. In fact, whether or not an employer has violated the regulation is usually a posh authorized query requiring evaluation of varied federal, state, and native legal guidelines.
Legal guidelines Prohibiting Wage Theft
Fortunately, workers usually do have recourse if they’re victims of wage theft. Relying on the potential violation, many various legal guidelines may very well be implicated.
For instance, the Honest Labor Requirements Act (“FLSA”) offers that nonexempt workers are entitled to additional time pay of 1 and one-half occasions their common price of pay after surpassing 40 hours of labor every workweek. Moreover, minimal wage pointers are set by federal, state, and typically even native governments. Importantly, in case your state or native authorities has set a minimal wage larger than that of the federal minimal wage, your employer is required to pay whichever is the best. Some states and jurisdictions have even set extra favorable additional time necessities than what’s offered within the FLSA.
In fact, as mentioned above, wage theft doesn’t simply implicate minimal wage and additional time violations. It will possibly additionally happen when workers are usually not paid for his or her complete hours labored, are topic to unlawful deductions from pay, or are having their timesheets illegally altered by varied time rounding or automated time deduction insurance policies. There are lots of federal, state, and native legal guidelines and rules which could prohibit these practices. For a extra detailed overview of wage theft legal guidelines within the DMV space, please see our DMV Survey Sequence: Wage Theft Version, positioned right here.
Wage theft ends in billions being stolen from the paychecks of staff annually. It impacts thousands and thousands of workers in workplaces throughout the nation. It will possibly occur in factories, retail shops, excessive rise workplace buildings, and even from the consolation of your own home. Merely, it doesn’t matter how a lot cash a employee is paid – workers in any respect ranges, in all industries, and in each tax bracket are vulnerable to wage theft.
If you happen to suppose you might be a sufferer of wage theft, it is necessary so that you can seek the advice of with a talented wage and hour lawyer to correctly decide if any legal guidelines have been violated and if you happen to could also be entitled to reduction. Relying on the violation, you might be entitled to substantial damages, together with cost for wages owed, liquidated damages in an equal quantity, curiosity, and/or attorneys’ charges and prices.