Wage theft is a widespread problem engulfing numerous industries. But how do you know what’s true about the issue and what’s being spread as a deterrent by employers to prevent you from filing a lost wage claim? Here are some common myths that will give you a better idea of what you can do about possible lost wages:
Myth No. 1: It only occurs in certain industries
Wage theft affects employees in all industries and every part of the country and can look different from industry to industry.
For example, in the retail world, requiring an employee to stay a few minutes late each night – off the clock – to finish closing up is against the law. However, misclassifying someone as a manager or supervisor to avoid having to pay overtime is also a violation of the law.
Myth No. 2: There is only one type of wage theft
All too often people hear “wage theft,” and think this only applies to employers not paying employees for the hours they worked. This is not true though. Wage theft also encompasses:
Misclassification: This often entails giving someone the “supervisor” or “manager” title – yet their job is the same as the people who work hourly. Employers benefit from making someone salaried because it exempts them from having to pay the employee overtime. Suddenly, you have someone working 60 hours a week, but they are actually making less than an hourly employee with the same responsibilities.
Incorrect payment: If an hourly employee works 35 hours, they should be paid for 35 hours, not 30. It is illegal to not pay someone for all the time they worked, especially forcing them to work off the clock.
Underpayment: The Fair Labor Standards Act is what sets the federal minimum wage. However, it also gives states the power to set higher ones. The minimum wage in Maryland is $9.25 an hour, and the minimum wage in Washington D.C. will increase to $13.25 in July.
Myth No. 3: There is nothing you can do
Your employer may have you believe that their practices are standard and legal and that there is nothing you can do. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the law sides with employees. Not only do you have the power to say this isn’t okay by taking legal action, but your decision to take legal action can also deter an employer from continuing to take advantage of hardworking employees.
Your work, your wages
You have rights, and your employer must abide by them. Don’t let misinformation keep you from getting what you deserve. You have the knowledge and the law on your sideshould you have ever need it.