Wage theft is on the increase. What can you do? – FindLaw


Hands in handcuffs hold money

The economic pain caused by the Coronavirus continues without end in sight. Millions are unemployed and struggling to make ends meet.

But another group of workers also falter: those who are still working but not getting the wages they are owed. New report It shows that the problem of wage theft is likely to increase significantly During a pandemic, the majority of victims are those who cannot afford it.

Definition of wage theft

The Definition of wage theft It’s simple: you don’t get the salary that the law or your contract entitles you to. Wage theft can come in many forms, including if the employer:

  • Failed to pay overtime
  • Withhold your final pay when leaving a job
  • You are not paid the minimum wage in your state or city
  • Withholds all wages, including paid sick time
  • It steals your advice

In short, when your employer hires you, they agree to comply with local, state, and federal laws regarding minimum wages, overtime, and any other wages that your employment agreement entitles you to.

A growing problem due to COVID-19

A new report from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth shows how the pandemic is likely causing wage theft to become more widespread. The report examines the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and shows how wage theft increased dramatically at the same time as unemployment was rising rapidly.

While the unemployment rate was at a record low of 3.5% in February, jobs were lost associated with the epidemic It caused it to rise to 14.7% in April. And while unemployment rates have decreased in recent months, they are still above 8%.

The report also found that any low-wage worker faced a 10-22% chance of being a victim of a minimum wage violation between 2007 and 2013. It also predicted jobs where workers are the victims of wage theft this time. :

  • Food and drink service workers
  • Retail workers
  • Housekeepers and laundry service workers
  • Hotel workers
  • Nannies, babysitters, etc.
  • Transportation and warehouse workers

Tipped workers, such as servers, are especially at risk. Many countries Which has a minimum wage Employers are required to make up for the difference when tips fall so short that workers are not getting the minimum wage, but many employers fail to fulfill their obligations.

Why does this happen?

It is clear that many companies are struggling to make the same amount of money that they were doing before the pandemic, especially restaurants. However, this does not relieve employees who make a short change.

But many employers do so because workers are often in the most vulnerable occupations Lacking leverage to change jobsEspecially now when it is difficult to find another job. The report shows that women, blacks, and Hispanic workers are most at risk in these situations. Workers who do not have US citizenship are at particular risk.

In short, employers rely on workers ’fear of saying or doing anything about withholding wages.

What can you do about wage theft?

You might be surprised to learn that wage theft has cost victims Far more victims of all other types of robbery combined. But government regulators often rely on victims of wage theft to file a complaint. Unlike robbery, where the police are involved, complaints of wage theft are often investigated through the state attorney general’s office, and employers usually face civil penalties and fines rather than criminal consequences.

If you believe you have been the victim of wage theft, the most important thing you should know is your employer You cannot be retaliated for speaking. If they try to do so, the law is on your side.

If your workplace HR department has not received a complaint anywhere, you should consider talking to an employment attorney about your rights.

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