Recent reports indicate that wage theft is becoming a growing problem across the nation.
When you look at these articles, you may wonder what wage theft is.
How can an employer refuse to pay wages for work that has been done? Or how can an employer steal from employees?
What Exactly is Wage Theft?
Wage theft encompasses a wide range of illegal practices employers indulge in to cut corners and save money – at the expense of their employees.
Examples of wage theft include failure to pay overtime, withholding the last few paychecks if the employee has quit or has been terminated, worker misclassification, requiring employees to work “off the clock” such as at lunchtime and unlawful pay deductions.
Wage theft may occur at any type of workplace. But, we find that it tends to occur most often in low-wage or minimum-wage jobs involving a non-union and immigrant workforce. It often occurs in situations where employers know that the workers rely on the jobs to make ends meet and are less likely to complain or protest.
Wage theft not only has a negative impact on workers and their families, but also communities because its members suffer financially. It’s hard to even assess the impact of wage theft on communities because many workers remain silent for fear of retaliation or losing their jobs.
Solving the Problem
With more and more cities around California pushing to increase the minimum wage, we believe that more employers will try to cut corners.
This is unfortunate. The problem of wage theft is not going to go away unless there is a strong effort to penalize cheating employers. Government enforcement of wage theft laws is simply not enough.
Our legal practice observes that often the only way wronged workers can get justice and compensation is by filing a class action lawsuit against the employer.
When employers start to feel the pressure from the government and from employment attorneys, there is hope that such wrongful practices will end in California and the rest of the nation.
If you believe that your employer has not paid you for work done, it is important that you contact an experienced California employment attorney to get more information about your legal rights and options.