As an employee, you show up to work each day with the expectation that you will be compensated for your work. Your employer is responsible for providing payment in a timely manner while also ensuring that you receive compensation for all of the work you have done. If you are not being paid properly, then you might be the victim of wage theft.
Wage theft is a term that describes a variety of situations, but generally it refers to situations where employees are not paid for work that has been completed. It includes not being paid according to minimum wage guidelines, not being paid overtime, not being paid for the total number of hours worked, not receiving a final paycheck upon leaving a job and not being paid at all.
It also includes being misclassified so that employees who are entitled to overtime pay are not paid for their work, misreporting hours, or forcing employees to work off the clock. This often happens when electronic timekeeping systems automatically clock employees out for breaks even though the employee has not taken them or shaving time off at the start or end of the day.
Wage theft happens all the time in workplaces across the country. It can happen at a major corporation just as easily as it can happen at a small business. While human error is also possible, when someone at a company makes a mistake with paychecks those mistakes are corrected quickly. With wage theft, the problem is ignored, and employers often try to pass them off so as to not be required to pay, and the only way to receive the payment you are due is to file a wage theft claim.
What You Need to Know Before You File a Wage Theft Claim
According to Vermont law, employees who work more than 40 hours in a work week must be paid overtime. Overtime in Vermont is one and a half times the regular pay rate.
In Vermont, minimum wage is $10.78. Given that state labor laws and minimum wage guidelines supersede federal minimum wage, employers must follow the Vermont minimum wage rules.
How to Report Wage Theft
Once you determine that you have been the victim of wage theft, you need to start working on filing a claim. In Vermont, by law you must file your wage theft claim within two years of when wages were due to you. Even though that seems like a lot of time you need to remember that you might not have been aware of when the wage theft began, so if it goes back several pay periods you might not have as much time as you think.
When filing a claim, you need to have as much evidence of the wage theft incident(s) as possible. Gather your paychecks, pay stubs and even your timecards when possible. Remember, the stronger your evidence, the stronger your case. And the more information you can provide in your claim, the easier it is for a ruling to be made.
To file a claim, you can log on to the Vermont Department of Labor’s website and file a claim electronically. You can call the office or visit a Department of Labor branch office to learn more or to ask for assistance.
The Commissioner may rule that your employer willfully neglected to pay your wages properly, in which case you would receive twice the money that you are owed as compensation. For that reason, you need to make sure that your evidence is as thorough as possible.
Filing a claim against your employer can be a difficult and stressful process, so you may seek help from an employment attorney to make sure that you are doing everything you can to win your case.
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If you suspect that you have been the victim of wage theft, you need to act quickly to file your claim. You might consider speaking with an employment attorney for advice and help with your claim to ensure that you are taking all of the necessary measures.
The benefit to working with an employment attorney is that many employment attorneys work on a contingency basis so they do not require payment upfront and will only require payment if you win your case. Some do require payment upfront, so discuss fees with your lawyer. Having an expert on your side does not guarantee that you will win your case, but it may greatly improve your chance of a successful outcome when someone is there to help make sure that you have a strong case with plenty of supporting evidence.
To get connected with a lawyer that takes cases in your area, fill out a Free Case Evaluation form.