Each year across America, billions of dollars are being stolen from employees’ paychecks. However, it’s not something that you will likely hear about on the Morning or Evening News. And unlike last night’s game, you won’t hear your co-workers discussing it around the water cooler. They probably wouldn’t even know if they’re victims. And–for you conspiracy theorists–the culprit behind this illegal activity is not some major criminal organization, the government or a computer hacker.
A report, published by the Economic Policy Institute, found that minimum wage violations were the source of $8 billion a year in lost wages in the 10 most populous states (including North Carolina). That’s an average of about $3,300 per worker, per year amongst the 2.4 million workers who reported wage theft in those states. Minimum wage violations occur when a worker is paid less than the legal minimum wage rate. However, minimum wage violations are simply one source of wage theft that occurs here in the U.S.
Wage theft, the denial of wages or employee benefits that are rightfully owed to an employee, affects millions of American workers each year. Common types of wage theft include (*note this list is not exhaustive*):
- Refusing to pay promised wages
- Not paying for all hours worked
- Paying improper overtime rates
- Forcing employees to complete tasks before clocking-in or after clocking-out
- Forcing or allowing employees to complete tasks at home with no compensation
- Classifying employees as salaried/(exempt from overtime) when the employee does not qualify for the exemption
- Classifying workers as Independent Contractors but treating them as employees
- Forcing employees to work through breaks or meals
- Not counting time spent traveling for work
Do the above activities sound familiar to you? What should you do if you believe that or you are a victim of wage theft?
First, talk to an employment attorney. He or she can review your circumstances and help determine if you have a claim against your employer. The federal government and many state governments provide legal protection as well as penalties for violating wage laws. An employment lawyer will guide you through the process to obtain what’s owed and help protect you from retaliation once violations are reported.
Second, don’t wait. The law imposes time restrictions on many claims. The clock may be ticking away on your claim. If you believe that you are a victim, talk to an attorney today. Madison Law, PLLC can help. Call Attorney Madison at (704) 981-2790 today.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to provide legal advice. Users and recipients of information from this website should refrain from taking (or withholding) action based on the contents herein without consulting a licensed attorney.