“Wage theft” is the term used to describe any practice where an employer refuses to pay their employee the money they are legally owed. This set of practices is shockingly common, costing workers billions of dollars every year due to lost wages and other costs. Watch for these seven signs to see if your employer might be stealing from you or your fellow employees:
- Your employer pays less than minimum wage
- The federal minimum wage across the United States is $7.25 per hour, while the state minimum wage in New York is $15 per hour. If you or your coworkers are making less than that amount per hour, your employer may be in violation of the law and could be committing wage theft.
- Your employer makes you clock out while you are still working
- A surprisingly common tactic some employers will use is that they will force their employees to clock out at the end of their shifts, even if they continue working afterwards. This way, they can avoid paying their employees overtime for any extra work they do past their scheduled time, which is a form of wage theft.
- Your employer pays you for scheduled hours, not hours worked
- Another trick some employers use is that they will only pay their employees for the time they were scheduled to work, not their actual hours worked. Sometimes this is a time-saving measure if employees only work the hours they are scheduled, but it can also be a way to get around paying for overtime when workers go past their scheduled shifts.
- Your employer refuses to let you take breaks for rest or meals
- Every worker is supposed to be permitted a certain amount of time so they can rest and eat while on the job. If your employer refuses to let you take breaks, or refuses to pay you when taking mandatory breaks, you may be the victim of wage theft.
- Your employer participates in tip pooling or tip sharing
- Tip pooling and tip sharing are ways for employees to spread their tips around so everyone benefits. While these arrangements are fairly common, the key is that employers are not supposed to participate in them. If your employer is taking some or all of your tips, you may be the victim of wage theft.
- Your employer delays pay without explanation
- As an employee, you are entitled to prompt payment of wages based on the terms of your employment. If your employer delays your pay without explanation, that could be a sign of a potential attempt to avoid payment entirely, which may mean they are engaged in wage theft.
- Your employer refuses to pay the final paycheck for employees who quit or get fired
- Employees are always entitled to pay for any hours worked, even if they are fired or quit. When employers withhold an employee’s final paycheck, it is considered a form of wage theft.
Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 41 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. His new book, “Fired!: Protect Your Rights & FIGHT BACK If You’re Terminated, Laid Off, Downsized, Restructured, Forced to Resign or Quit,” is available in hardback, and contains valuable advice on dealing with employment and labor law issues. To purchase the book, feel free to contact Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or visit the website at legalstratpub.com. To inquire about a legal matter, please feel free to contact attorney Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or email@example.com.