Employees trust their employers to pay them fairly for their labor. However, not all employers live up to this expectation. Some employers engage in practices that effectively steal from their employees’ paychecks.
Being aware of these sneaky tactics can help workers protect their rights and receive the pay they rightfully earned.
Understanding wage theft
Wage theft occurs when an employer fails to pay a worker the full wages to which they are legally entitled. This unethical practice can take several forms and often goes unnoticed by unsuspecting employees. Employers may steal pay in subtle ways that are not immediately obvious.
One common method employers use to steal wages is misclassifying employees. By classifying an employee as an independent contractor, an employer can evade paying overtime, benefits and certain taxes. Similarly, misclassifying an hourly worker as salaried can allow an employer to avoid paying for extra hours worked.
Failing to pay for overtime
Some employers may ask employees to work off the clock before or after their shift or during their break. This effectively robs employees of their earned overtime pay.
Skimming tips and pooling tips
In industries where employees receive tips, some employers may illegally take a share of the tips or require tipped employees to share their tips with non-tipped employees, reducing the amount the tipped employee takes home.
Not paying for all hours worked
Some employers do not pay employees for all hours worked, often by rounding down hours, not paying for work done outside regular hours or failing to pay for training or meetings.
Adjusting time cards
Employers who adjust time cards to reflect fewer hours than an employee worked commit a clear form of wage theft.
Denying meal or rest breaks
In California, employers must provide certain meal and rest breaks, including a paid 10-minute break for every four hours a person works. An employer who denies these breaks may be stealing wages from their employees.
Wage theft is a serious issue that can have significant financial implications for workers. Employees should be vigilant, understand their rights and keep track of their hours worked and any pay discrepancies they notice.