common types of wage theft

If you have a job in the United States, you need to know that wage theft is a huge problem that impacts employees nationwide. It is disheartening but true.

Yearly, employers in the U.S. steal $15 billion in wages from their employees.

This figure is alarming, to say the least, and it deserves legal attention.

At Workplace Rights Law Group, we have the skill and experience to protect and recover your hard-earned wages taken from you through California wage theft.

Contact us today to get started.

What Is Wage Theft?

Wage theft is an employer’s failure or refusal to give an employee all work benefits they’ve earned under law or contract.

While most common, withholding an earned paycheck is not the only form of wage theft.

An employer’s actions that deny an employee’s full legal or contractual benefits for their work are also wage theft.

Common Types of Wage Theft

The most common forms of wage theft in the U.S.include[1] :

  • Paying employees less than minimum wage,
  • Failing to pay employees overtime wages, and
  • Not paying for required employee benefits.

Keep in mind that California has laws more favorable to employees than federal law. While California employees have access to more work benefits, their employers also have more opportunities to commit wage theft.

In addition to the most common forms of wage theft in the US, California wage theft includes:

  • Failure to timely pay final wages,
  • Bounced paychecks,
  • Failure to pay reporting time pay,
  • Unauthorized deductions,
  • Failure to provide rest and meal breaks,
  • Taking employees’ tips,
  • Failure to pay split shift premiums,
  • Denying accrued paid sick leave, and
  • Failure to pay agreed-upon wages.

Below, we look at some of these wage theft practices employers use to deny an employee their full benefits or their whole paycheck.

Paying Less Than Minimum Wage

Federal minimum wage laws require employers to pay employees at least $7.25 per hour. But California employees are legally entitled to almost double that amount.

California employers with 25 or fewer employees must pay at least $14 per hour. And employers who have more than 25 employees must pay at least $15 per hour.

California is set to increase the minimum wage in 2023, so keep an eye on your paycheck and the California Department of Industrial Relations website to make sure you receive your full pay.

Failing to Pay Overtime

Your employer might lead you to believe they only have to pay overtime if you work more than 40 hours in a seven-day period.

If you work in California, this is not the whole truth. Non-exempt California employees must receive the following rates of overtime pay under the following circumstances:

  • For work over eight hours in a workday—you must get 1.5 times your regular rate of pay;
  • For work over 40 hours in a workweek—you must get 1.5 times your regular rate of pay;
  • For the first eight hours of work on the seventh consecutive day of work—you get 1.5 times your regular rate of pay;
  • For work over 12 hours in a workday—you get two times the regular rate of pay; and
  • For work over eight hours on the seventh consecutive day of work—you get two times your regular rate of pay.

These overtime rules have some exceptions that depend on the type of work you do.

Speak to an attorney about whether you have a right to overtime pay and what rate you should receive.

Neglecting to Pay for Required Employee Benefits

If an employer wants the advantage of employee help, they have to fulfill certain financial obligations in addition to paying wages.

California employers must:

  • Withhold and pay certain employment taxes,
  • Fulfill unemployment insurance obligations, and
  • Pay for workers’ compensation insurance.

Fulfilling these obligations is crucial to maintaining a healthy economy and workforce.

How do employers shirk these responsibilities? Many of them illegally misclassify their employees as independent contractors.

If you are an independent contractor, you have to pay your own employment taxes and cover financial burdens from unemployment or work injuries.

An experienced attorney can make sure your employer classifies you correctly and pays the proper benefits for your labor.

We Can Put Your Hard-Earned Wages Back in Your Pocket

We have nearly 75 years of combined experience at the Workplace Law Rights Group. That means we are ready to fight for you in whatever work dispute you face.

We have also represented employers in the past, so we have the edge on how to defeat them in court and the negotiation room.

Our California employment attorneys want to make sure you receive the pay you deserve, and we have the skills to do it.

If you are in the middle of a workplace dispute, talk to us. You can schedule a free case review by calling 1-818-844-5200 or contacting us online.  


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