Millions of Americans fall victim to wage theft every year. It is a serious problem. It is your responsibility to keep track of your earnings and compare them to your paycheck, so you can make sure that you are paid properly.
You should also familiarize yourself with the state and federal employment laws and review your company’s procedures and employee handbook.
If you work in the retail industry and suspect you are the victim of wage theft, you should report it immediately. You do have resources available to help you.
How Does Wage Theft Occur In The Retail Industry?
There are many ways that wage theft occurs, and sometimes it is more obvious than others. As an example, federal law requires any non-exempt employees to be paid overtime at a rate of one-and-a-half times their regular pay for any hours worked more than 40 hours during a workweek. Employers may misclassify employees or fail to pay the overtime wage when they should.
Sometimes employers do not pay workers minimum wage, and if they do not pay you at least minimum wage or more, they are in violation of the law. Also, you must be paid for all the hours that you have worked.
If you are not paid for your time worked, then you have suffered wage theft. If you work through your breaks, or if you work past your scheduled time, your employer must pay you for that time.
When you leave a job, your employer must give you your last paycheck. Sometimes employers don’t give the last paycheck and that is also wage theft.
Regardless of which scenario applies to your situation, you should act promptly if you have suffered wage theft. As an example, you are a cashier in a grocery store.
You worked 46 hours last workweek, but you were paid your regular hourly wage for all 46 hours. That is considered wage theft because you should have gotten time and a half for the 6 hours overtime.
Preventing Wage Theft When Working In The Retail Industry
When you work retail, you should be attentive to your work schedule and the hours that you work. Document your time worked and, also document any breaks that you take.
You should keep your employee handbook and work agreement or contract. When you receive your pay, review the paystub and compare it with the hours that you worked. Also, make sure you are being paid the correct hourly rate.
If you notice a discrepancy, or suspect wage theft, talk with a supervisor or your company’s human resources department as quickly as you can.
Make sure you keep a paper trail and maintain documentation that shows how much you worked and how much you earned. If you switch shifts with a coworker, or if you pick up extra hours, be sure to document that and make sure you are paid for that time when you get your paycheck.
Not being paid in a timely fashion is also a form of wage theft, so if you do not receive your paycheck when you are supposed to, you should speak with your employer right away and file a complaint with the proper agency if it is not corrected and you do not receive your pay.
You should also note who you work with because you may need witnesses who can back up your claim and who can confirm that you did work when you say you were on the job.
Making sure you have gathered supporting evidence is essential to recovering your lost earnings.
What To Do If You Experienced Wage Theft In The Retail Industry
If you have suffered wage theft as a worker in the retail industry, you may be able to file a claim against your employer to recoup compensation for your lost wages. Of course, your supporting evidence and documentation are essential to the success of your claim.
You will file a claim with the Department of Labor’s Hour and Wage Division. They will investigate your allegations and contact your employer to try to resolve the matter.
If the matter is not resolved, you will advance to the next step which is to file a lawsuit against your employer and ask for your lost earnings and any other damages that you may have suffered.
You should speak with an employment law attorney about the matter and to get legal advice. With the help of an attorney, you are much more likely to succeed with your claim against your employer.