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Wage Theft: You Might be a Victim and Not Know It

Small, seemingly innocuous moments in a worker’s day-to-day may seem like “just a part of the job.” However, in many cases, these routine moments are actually wage theft. They’re illegal, and they’re costing American workers billions of dollars every year.

Statistics show that workers in Los Angeles, widely regarded as the wage theft capital of the United States, lose $26.2 million to wage theft every week. Yes – week. 80% of Los Angeles workers have experienced wage theft at some point in their working lives and at the national level, 83% of workers who have won a wage theft dispute with an employer are never paid what is due.

According to the National Consumers League, there are six methods that employers routinely and most commonly use to steal wages from their employees. The list includes:

Failure to pay overtime: If a worker has logged over 40 hours of work for a week, the overage is to be paid at an overtime rate unless that worker is exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Misclassification: Employers have long-since tried to classify workers as exempt or even independent contractors when, in actuality, the worker should have been classified as a full-time non-exempt employee.
Failure to pay a full minimum wage: Laws and minimum wage rates are starting to get a little complicated from state to state. The easiest thing to remember is that when it comes to federal minimum wage standards versus state and local minimum wage standards, the employee is entitled to the highest pay rate of the available minimum wage options.
Work performed off the clock: If your job requires protective gear to be used or some other preparation for the day, you should be paid for that time. If you have to clean up the premises at the end of the day, you should be paid for that time. Putting it simply, a workday starts when you enter the workplace and ends when you leave.
Deductions: Even after employer-made deductions, an employee’s hourly pay should never drop below their minimum wage.
Failure to actually pay the employee: If you work, you should get paid for that work.

Do any of these things sound familiar to you in your current or past work situations? The answer for many is increasingly becoming yes.