We all know that money is stolen from hard-working people every day in the form of robberies, burglaries and other thefts, but you might be surprised to learn that employers steal more money from hard-working people than robberies, burglaries, larcenies and auto thefts combined.
Although these numbers are based on 2012 data, the same probably holds true still today. The most unfortunate part of these statistics is that the victims of wage theft are usually the people who can afford the theft the least.
What is wage theft?
“Wage theft covers a variety of infractions that occur when workers do not receive their legally or contractually promised wages,” according to wagetheft.org.
“Common forms of wage theft are non-payment of overtime, not giving workers their last paycheck after a worker leaves a job, not paying for all the hours worked, not paying minimum wage, and even not paying a worker at all.”
What is even more sobering is to think based on these statistics: they get the numbers regarding traditional theft from what is reported to police, whether it is recovered or not. They get the data for wage theft based on what is: reported, looked into, taken to court, and won back for employees. So, I would be willing to assume that the numbers of wage theft are actually much larger, in reality.
Fortunately, there are remedies under state and federal laws to recover from those thieving employers engaging in wage theft. Even if it is something that seems small, like employers keeping a percentage of tips, it is still wage theft and is actionable in civil court. Contact a lawyer if you suspect your employer of engaging in the activities described above.
Today I received a call from a union official at a local packing plant asking me if the company could force injured employees to apply ice and heat to their injuries during break.
I answered it depends on whether the company or the employee receives the predominant benefit of the icing. The predominant benefit analysis is the framework for deciding “donning and doffing cases.” In donning and doffing cases, the issue is whether taking off and putting on safety equipment before and after a shift as well as during meal and break times should be paid. I think the same analysis could work for “icing and heating.” One argument for icing and heating time not being compensable is that the pain relief predominately benefits the employee. However, employers argued in the donning and doffing cases that wearing safety gear benefits employees, but courts have still found the predominate benefit question to be one answerable by a jury (subscription required).