Employees have a right to fair pay. However, employers can make mistakes that prevent this from happening. These mistakes, whether purposeful or accidental, can have serious consequences. Employees who aren’t fairly paid may need to take legal action.
Before employees seek legal help, it helps to understand how they might become victims of wage theft. Here are three ways employers sometimes cheat their employees out of their rightful pay:
1. Failing to pay overtime
Employees who work more than eight hours a day, up to twelve hours a day, are eligible for one and one-half times their typical wage. Their wage also goes up 1.5 times for the first eight hours of work on the seventh consecutive day of work. Overtime is doubled if an employee works more than 12 hours a day and all hours worked above eight hours on the seventh consecutive work day. Many employers withhold overtime pay.
2. Failing to classify workers as employees
When a worker is hired, an employer may classify them as independent contractors. Independent contractors may not be eligible for overtime rates. Furthermore, a worker classified as an independent contractor may be exempt from other benefits, such as healthcare and workers’ compensation benefits. Or, a worker could be classified as “exempt.” An exempt employee can not make overtime pay.
3. Failing to pay breaks
Non-exempt employees have a right to meals and rest breaks. Employees have a right to a ten-minute rest for every four hours worked. Thirty-minute meal breaks are given at the end of five hours of work and an additional break after ten hours of work. Workers should also be paid for any meal and rest breaks.
Wage theft is a violation of employee rights. Employees who are victims of wage theft may need to learn about their legal rights and the steps to remedy the violation.