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 Act (FLSA). 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 receive overtime.
- 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 clocking out.
- 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.