Employees are protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as Maine’s own state laws. Despite all of these laws being in place to protect workers, wage theft cases are on the rise as employers attempt to deny workers the wages they are due.
Wage theft can include a variety of situations including not being paid overtime, not being paid according to minimum wage guidelines, not receiving a final paycheck upon leaving a job, not being paid for the total number of hours worked or not being paid at all. Wage theft also includes examples of digital time theft such as electronic timekeeping systems that clock workers out for meal breaks that are not taken or shaving time off at the start and end of each workday.
It doesn’t matter how big or small a company is. Wage theft can happen anywhere. It is important to take action to ensure that you are being paid fairly and in a timely manner.
Obviously, there are situations where human error might prevent you from being paid, but the understanding with human error is that the mistake will be corrected right away. Wage theft scenarios are often denied or hidden to keep the employer from getting in trouble. If you suspect that you have been the victim of wage theft, it is important to understand your rights and know what you need to do to take action.
What You Need to Know Before You File a Wage Theft Claim
When it comes to minimum wage laws, there are federal guidelines as well as state guidelines, and sometimes there are also local guidelines as well. Maine’s state minimum wage is $11.00 per hour.
Wages are higher in Portland, Maine, and the highest prevailing rate will always take precedence. That means employers in Portland cannot pay less than the city’s minimum wage guidelines.
Maine stipulates that employers must pay employees in regular intervals within eight days of the end of a pay period and no more than 16 days between pay periods. An employer in Maine cannot deduct the cost of uniforms or maintenance fees from an employee’s paycheck unless the employee agreed to the terms in their hiring paperwork.
Maine also requires that employers provide an accurate accounting of wages at each pay period, including the dates of the pay period, hours worked, total earnings and an itemized list of any deductions from the wages. If an employee quits or resigns, then the employer must pay the employee all wages due by the next regular payday, or within two weeks of the resignation, whichever comes first.
How to Report Wage Theft
If you believe you have been a victim of wage theft, you should contact the Maine Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division immediately. They are the governing body that oversees labor disputes in the state. Employees can also file a FLSA violation claim with the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD).
The most important aspect of a wage theft case is evidence. Without evidence, it is difficult to prove that wage theft took place.
You should gather as much evidence as you can, including pay stubs, paychecks, timecards and copies of your contract that outline the terms of your employment. The more evidence you have, the stronger your case will be.
Fill Out a Free Evaluation Form
Filing a wage theft claim against your employer can be challenging. Not only is it a stressful situation, but it can also be intimidating. Though you can file a claim on your own, you might consider consulting with an employment attorney who can help you to gather evidence and build a strong case to improve the chances of a successful claim.
Working with an employment attorney will not guarantee that you will win your wage theft claim but it will help to make sure that everything is done properly, and this can alleviate a lot of your stress knowing that you have an experienced advocate working on your behalf.
The benefit to working with an employment lawyer is that many of them work on a contingency basis, so there is no payment required upfront and you only pay if you win your case. That means there is very little risk involved in working with an employment attorney. Discuss payment options with your lawyer to find out if this is the case.
If you believe that you have been the victim of wage theft, you should fill out a Free Case Evaluation form to get connected with an employment law lawyer that takes cases in your area today.