Wage theft takes place when an employer fails to pay what is owed to you the bus driver. This could include overtime, not paying the minimum wage, not paying for all the hours spent on the job and in some cases not paying any wages at all.
In the United States the federal minimum wage is set at $7.25, but many states have legislation in force that sets their own minimum wage. An employee is entitled to receive whatever is the highest whether state or federal.
Bus drivers are in a unique position as they cannot always run to schedules due to traffic conditions caused by accidents, bottlenecks of traffic at sports stadiums and schools and sometimes poorly functioning lights.
If you arrive back to the bus depot 30 minutes after the end of your shift you should be paid for that extra time spent on the road.
If your employer refuses to do this it might be considered wage theft as your employer knows by law that bus drivers have to be paid for all the time they spend on the job.
When It Become Wage Theft
When deciding if wage theft has taken place there are some key features to consider. The first is if you as the bus driver have been paid the minimum wage. The second is if overtime has been paid for any hours worked over 40 per week.
If your bus schedule in a particular week has meant you have arrived late every day, you should be paid overtime if your weekly hours exceed 40 per week. This is typically paid at one and a half times the standard rate.
The third is if meal and rest breaks have been paid for in accordance with the agreement between you and your employer.
If any of the above has happened to you then your employer could be accused of wage theft. This is illegal under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
It is the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor (DOL) in each state which is responsible for administrating the laws of the FLSA.
What to Do if You Believe You Are a Victim of Wage Theft
You must report the matter of wage theft to your bus company’s supervisor and your HR department and see how they respond. You might be lucky and they may accept the wage theft as a mistake and make up the amount you have lost on your next pay day.
If there is no response then the wage theft was probably deliberate, which unfortunately it often is. This means you will have to move onto the next step and that is making contact with the Wages and Hours Division (WHD) at your state’s Department of Labor and file a complaint on the form provided for reporting wage thefts.
Before you move on to this second step you will need some evidence to support your wage theft claim. You should have documented all the hours worked even if that means photographing the time on your watch when you vacated your bus after completing your shift.
You should compare the hours you have recorded with those you find on your pay stubs. If you have found there is a discrepancy that you can use as evidence to prove wage theft then you can attach the proof to your wage theft complaint form.
As soon as the wage theft form has been reviewed by a Department of Labor WHD officer the person will contact your employer and report your complaint and try to reach a solution.
If this fails the officer may suggest mediation as this is typically considered a better way to approach wage theft than going to court.
If no agreement can be reached the officer responsible for your case will give you the go ahead to file a complaint concerning your wage theft in court.
If you win, your missed wages should be paid, your attorney and court fees and the Wages and Hours Division may ask the court to impose a penalty on your employer of up to $10,000 for the wage theft. A prison sentence is sometimes imposed if your employer has committed wage theft before.
Ask For Help From an Attorney
It can be intimidating approaching your supervisor or HR about your wage theft and even filling in a wage theft complaint form at your Department of Labor.
If you think you might be a victim of wage theft you can help to make the complaints process easier by contacting an attorney who can help you through the complaints process and ensure you get your wage theft repaid.
You are welcome to get a free case evaluation available below.