Imagine working hard for your employer, diligently producing high-quality work that is needed to keep the company running smoothly. You devote many hours of your time at work and put in overtime when necessary – all this without any complaint or protest.
But then, one day, you get an email from HR informing you that not only will you be getting no pay increase but instead, there is a wage deduction for something minor like taking lunch breaks. This would never happen if it were not for wage theft.
How Do You Deal With Unpaid Wages?
As an employee, you may not be familiar with wage theft. While it is not something you may have heard of before, wage theft occurs when your employer does not pay you the money they owe. There are various ways this can happen, and employers will frequently use a combination of tricks to avoid paying workers what they deserve.
Employers who do not want to give employees raises or hire new staff may do so by lowering the hourly rate, making it clear that this is not a temporary change. If employees complain or refuse to work for less money, they may be threatened with termination, and their hours will probably be cut back as well. This can have a long-term impact on an employee’s financial security if their employer continues these tactics over many years.
To combat wage theft, employees should take the following steps:
- Educate yourself about your rights as an employee and what constitutes wage theft. This includes learning about the various ways in which employers can withhold wages, such as making illegal deductions, refusing to pay overtime, or simply not paying workers at all.
- If you suspect that your employer is withholding wages, look for evidence. If this involves speaking to co-workers or going through company records, do so discreetly and record everything in case the situation escalates.
- File a complaint with the Labor Department if it becomes clear that wage theft has taken place – there may be other workers who are suffering the same treatment.
- Get in touch with an employment lawyer if your employer continues to withhold wages or retaliates against you for complaining about this issue. Speaking with a defense base act attorney is vital as they can advise you on your legal rights and help you take action.
- Spread awareness about wage theft by talking to friends, family members, or co-workers who may be in a similar situation. This can help others protect themselves from being taken advantage of in the future.
Suppose more employees stand up against wage theft and demand what they are rightfully owed. In that case, employers may be forced to improve their practices or face legal consequences for continuing these unlawful actions.
What Is Considered Wage Theft?
Wage theft can be categorized into different types:
This includes working hours not paid for, such as working off the clock or through lunch breaks. In addition, employers often try to make illegal deductions from an employee’s paycheck to avoid paying overtime wages.
Minimum wage violations
Many employers do not pay their employees the minimum wage, which is crucial, especially for tipped employees or those working in a low-income industry. This is one of the most common forms of wage theft.
This includes not receiving a paycheck at all, being paid late, or having part of your paycheck withheld without authorization.
When an employer makes illegal deductions from their employee’s wages, such as for breakages or damage to equipment that was caused by negligence on the part of the worker, this is also considered wage theft.
Employees need to be aware of their rights and what to do if they suspect their employer is withholding wages. By taking the necessary steps, you can help protect yourself from wage theft and ensure that you are paid what you rightfully deserve.
What Are The Chances That an Employee Will Win a Wage Theft Lawsuit?
If an employee decides to take legal action against their employer for wage theft, several factors will be considered. These include:
- The amount of money that was stolen from the worker
- Whether or not the employer has a history of wage theft
- How egregious the actions of the employer were
- The total amount of damages that the employee suffered as a result of this action
Employees should keep all records and evidence about their situation, including any signed contracts with their employers. If it becomes clear that you are being taken advantage of or your employment rights are being violated somehow, seeking legal advice is crucial.
Can You Recover Stolen Wages?
If you are a victim of wage theft, there are several steps you can take to try and recover the money that was stolen from you. This includes:
- Filing a complaint with the Labor Department
- Contacting an employment lawyer
- Talking to other employees who have experienced wage theft
- Spreading awareness about this issue
It is important to note that not everyone who has experienced wage theft will recover their money. It all depends on the circumstances surrounding your case and how much you are willing to fight for what is right.
Fighting for your rights can be difficult, but knowing that you are not alone is essential. Many people have experienced wage theft and are fighting for justice. You can protect yourself from this issue and ensure that you receive the wages you rightfully deserve by taking the necessary steps.