Is Wage Theft Becoming an Epidemic? What You Need to Know If Your Paycheck Is Short
Recent research shows a 450% increase in wage and hour lawsuits since 2000
Have you ever suspected that your paycheck was short?
Perhaps you thought you had more overtime than what appeared on your paystub.
Or maybe there were deductions that you couldn’t quite figure out.
In any case, your take-home pay ended up being lower than you expected.
You may have even brought the issue up with management, only to be met
with explanations that didn’t quite satisfy you.
The good news: Your instinct that something was amiss may be correct—and
there may be legal remedies that you can pursue.
The bad news: You may be just one of a growing number of employees who
may not be getting compensated in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards
Recent statistics show a dramatic increase in the number of minimum wage and overtime complaints
by employees in the last several years.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of unscrupulous employers out there who
don’t mind skimming workers’ wages in order to line their
own pockets. They often count on workers’ not knowing their rights
when it comes to compensation. These bad actors know that if they offer
confusing explanations for why the numbers don’t add up, many people
won’t pursue the matter.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s behind the disturbing trend
in FLSA complaints and then talk about what you need to know to ensure
that you’re being paid in accordance with the law.
Wage and Hour Complaints Are Rampant
PACER is the electronic public access service of the federal court system.
Comparing yearly numbers about the types of lawsuits filed can help us
gauge what’s going on in the courts.
PACER statistics show that lawsuits alleging violations of the FLSA have
increased every year since 2000, showing a net increase of 450% from 2000
to 2015. In fact, in 2015, there were nearly 900 more wage and hour complaints
than in 2014.
How bad is the problem?
Researchers at Temple University in Philadelphia did an
in-depth study on wage theft. They estimated that workers lose up to $32 million per year in Pennsylvania
alone because of unfair pay practices.
Worse, the study authors found that lower-income workers were often at
increased risk of wage theft because employers assumed they were less
aware of their rights to fair compensation.
How to Know If You’re at Risk
Being informed is an important first step in making sure that you’re
being compensated in accordance with the law.
Here are some red flags that may indicate that you’ve been a victim
of wage theft:
- Your hourly compensation is below state or federal minimum wage.
- You aren’t paid overtime for hours worked over 40 hours per week,
even though you are a non-exempt employee.
- You suspect that you’ve been misclassified as exempt from overtime,
even though your job duties have little variation from other workers who
- Your paystub includes deductions for breaks of less than 20 minutes, charges
for supplies needed to do the job, or charges for alleged theft or property damage.
- You are told to begin work before clocking in, or continue working after
- You aren’t paid for all the hours you worked during a pay period.
- Your pay is delayed or withheld.
- You are classified as an independent contractor, yet your job differs little
from that of full-time employees.
Both federal and state law offer protection from unlawful compensation
practices. If you believe that you’ve been the victim of wage theft,
it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney to find out about your rights.
Call or email us today to discuss your unique situation.