Wage theft is an increasingly large problem that devastates employees across the United States. Every year, an estimated 50 billion dollars is stolen from workers through wage theft. The odds that you are not also a victim or will not be at some point in your lifetime are rather low.
If you’re unsure how your employer could be stealing your wages, the employee rights attorneys at Bantle & Levy can help. By being aware of their tactics, you can ensure you’re being paid what you deserve. If you find out that your employer is stealing your wages, you can take legal action against them.
Ways Your Employer Can Commit Wage Theft
Employers have several different methods of actively, passively, and accidentally stealing your wages. No matter how they do it though, there is almost always a paper trail that can be tracked. Some of the most common ways wage theft occurs include:
#1. Not Paying You Your Overtime
This can work in multiple ways. First, they may try to pay you the wrong overtime pay rate. Under New York law, the pay rate for overtime must be at least 1.5x your regular hourly rate.
Second, they may just not pay you overtime at all. If you are paid by the hour, you need to receive overtime pay for any hours worked over your regular 40 in a workweek. Salaried employees commonly do not get overtime in exchange for other benefits. We can review your employment agreement if you are unsure. Having an inconsistent paycheck does not automatically mean you are an hourly employee.
#2. Making Illegal Deductions From Wages
Any deduction from your wages without your permission is considered an illegal deduction. Even if you break something, your employer cannot deduct the cost from your pay without permission. Common reasons that employers try to deduct from your paycheck include:
- Covering cash shortages, broken equipment, or loss of materials.
- Covering the cost of uniforms without prior permission.
- Not paying an employee their last paycheck or less than it should be because they quit.
- Covering the cost of supplies employees need to do their job.
#3. Misclassifying an Employee as an Independent Contractor
Regular employees and independent contractors are protected by different laws and have different modes of pay. Employers have fewer standards and more control over how they have to pay a contractor due to their temporary status. Employers will misclassify employees as independent contractors so they can pay them less, not provide them benefits, and so they don’t have to pay certain taxes and unions.
#4. Requiring Employees to Work Off the Clock
Now, the law is actually a bit tricky here. It’s not illegal for your employer to ask you to work after you clock out, and it’s not illegal for them to fire you if you refuse. What is illegal is if they ask you to work off the clock, and then don’t pay you overtime afterwards. They’ll do this to try to make it so you don’t have proof of the overtime hours, and then they don’t have to compensate you.
Make sure you document when you actually left. You can take pictures of yourself at your job after clocking out, preferably with the time behind you, and when you actually leave. If they don’t pay you the correct overtime or no overtime at all, you can report them to the Department of Justice and sue them for back pay.
#5. Stealing Tips From Employees
If you work for tips, such as at a restaurant, your employers cannot take your tips. They don’t have to allow something like a tip jar, but if they do, no one on the managerial level may take any funds from it.
The employer also cannot take tips and distribute them amongst employees, even if they take nothing for themselves. If a manager tries to do something like this, their supervisor/business owner/employer is responsible for recompensating the employees’ tips.
This does also mean that if there is a tip jar, employees must determine how to fairly distribute it. It is not the responsibility of the employer or manager to make sure everyone splits a tip jar or keep employees from not distributing it evenly.
#6. Failing To Pay Out Accrued Vacation Time When You Quit or Are Terminated
If your employment contract states that you will be paid for your accrued vacation when your employment ends, your employer must provide you with the proper compensation. The only exception may be when the business is collapsing, though they may face other consequences instead.
This means that if you quit or are fired with unused vacation time that you accrued over your employment, your employer must pay you a set amount that’s equal to those days. The amount of time they have to pay you depends on your employment contract. We can review it for more information.
#7. Falsifying Pay Records
Falsifying pay records can take many forms, including:
- Your employers can falsify your pay rate by recording it as lower than what your employment contract promised when calculating your pay.
- Employers can take out more for taxes, insurance, and unions than they have permission to and pocket that extra money.
- An employer can purposely state that you worked less than you did to pay you less.
- Employers can miscalculate when doing the math for your pay.
Contact the Wage Theft Attorneys at Bantle & Levy If Your Employer Steals Your Pay
Sometimes, mistakes can be made and an employer may pay you incorrectly, but even then, you are legally allowed to ask for those wages. Whether it’s on accident or on purpose, you should not go without the money you worked for.
If you suspect that your employer has been stealing your wages, contact our attorneys to schedule a consultation. We’ll review your information and help you seek justice.