When you take a job, your most basic right is the right to compensation. You and your employer agree to a salary or an hourly wage that they pay you for your time, training, and effort. If you are an hourly worker, you should receive compensation for all of the time that you put in at work, including overtime compensation when you work more than 40 hours in a specific workweek.
Most employees clock in and out and just assume that they receive all of their wages. However, workers who track when they work and compare their own records to their paychecks could find that they don’t get paid for all of the time that they work. Wage theft or the refusal of a company to pay workers the full amount they are due is a shockingly common practice.
How big of an issue is wage theft?
In 2019, the Department of Labor fined roughly 8,500 companies for an estimated $287 million in wages stolen from their workers, and those were just the companies that got caught. An analysis of the data about wage theft shows that restaurant servers, security guards, gas station employees, and child care providers are among those most likely to have wages stolen or withheld from their employers.
Many companies intentionally engage in wage theft and do so repeatedly. They might ask employees to clock out and keep working, change the records of when you start or end shifts, or just refuse to pay overtime if you work more than 40 hours one week.
The government only holds a fraction of the businesses stealing from their workers accountable, and the fines they have to pay are often much less than the wages they illegally withheld from hourly workers. Employees generally need to stand up and demand their wages or forego getting paid for the time that they worked.
How do wage claims work?
When you have documentation that shows your employer has required you to work off the clock, altered your payroll records, or wrongfully denied you overtime compensation, you can file a civil lawsuit. After the courts review the evidence, they may rule in your favor and award the unpaid income you have already earned.
Initiating a wage claim may be the only way to get the pay rate you deserve and deter your employer from stealing your wages again in the future.
Who should I contact about a wage theft claim?
If you have questions about wage theft by your employer, contact the lawyers at Edelson Lechtzin LLP to find out if you have a claim for unpaid compensation. We offer free, no-cost consultations to discretely discuss your case. We can help you understand your options and learn more about your next steps. Call us at 844-696-7492 or send us an email.