Low-Wage Workers Most Likely to Be Victimized by Wage Theft
Fast-food employees, home health aides, and construction workers are common targets
Ever suspect that you’re being cheated out of pay?
If so, you’re not alone. According to the New York State Attorney General’s Office, New York employers had to pay nearly $5.7 million in owed compensation and damages for shorting workers’ pay over a one-year period.
While that’s a substantial amount of money, it’s probably only a drop in the bucket when it comes to the actual impact of wage theft.
Unfortunately, wage theft often goes unreported. Too often, workers who haven’t been paid in accordance with the law assume that it’s impossible to fight back against their employers.
However, you should know that the law provides remedies for people who have been denied their rightfully earned pay.
What wage theft looks like
Wage theft is any action that an employer may take to avoid paying you your full compensation. Some common scenarios include:
Unfair break deductions. These most often occur when computerized timekeeping systems automatically deduct meal breaks — whether you have taken those breaks or not.
Failure to pay overtime. Employers may rely on confusing calculations to avoid paying time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Or, employers may intentionally misclassify you as exempt so you believe that you’re not entitled to overtime at all.
Working off the clock. If you work in the restaurant industry, you may recognize this as a common scenario. You may be expected to work before your shift begins to do food prep, or after it ends to clean up. Restaurant owners and kitchen managers may explain that this is a normal practice in the restaurant world; however, it remains unlawful.
Failure to pay or failure to pay on-time. If you’re a home healthcare aide, a construction worker, or another type of employee who doesn’t work in a central location, you may have had the experience that your employer sometimes mysteriously vanishes on pay day. This can result in late or missed pay checks.
Questionable deductions. Some employers may attempt to deduct for equipment that was supposedly lost or stolen, or may provide other intentionally confusing explanations for short pay checks.
If any of these things have happened to you, you may have been a victim of wage theft.
Keep in mind, while wage theft is most often a problem for low-wage workers, employees in any industry may be affected by unlawful pay practices.
Contact us now
Federal law offers protection from unlawful compensation practices, as do some state and local laws. 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.