Wage Theft as an Employee of a Small Business

There is some survey evidence available that suggests wage theft is widespread across the country and costs employees billions of dollars annually.

An example of wage theft of an employee of a small business is when the business’s owner asks an employee to do a bit of extra work on marketing material for a company website after hours which is different from the employee’s usual job.

This is violating the Wage and Hour Law which states that employees are paid for every second of their work duties.

The problem with working for a small business is that some employees may be required to interchange their roles. This often makes it more difficult to calculate the right wage.

It is not the employee’s job to track all hours worked but it is the employers who has to track and pay for all hours.

Examples of Wage Theft that a Small business Employee Could Face

Wage theft takes place when adjustments should have been made to your pay but they are done incorrectly or not at all.

An employee in a small business could face the following wage thefts:

  • failure to pay for daily overtime limits;
  • failure to pay for weekly overtime limits;
  • failure to pay the minimum wage;
  • failure to be paid vacation and sick leave;
  • not being paid for any prep work like opening doors in the morning and locking them at night.

Because your employer is responsible for calculating your hours and paying your entitlements you may find it difficult to determine precisely the amount of wage theft.

What to Do If You Are the Victim of Wage Theft

When you get your next pay stub, check it against your work record. See if there appears to be any evidence of wage theft.

The first thing you can do is see your supervisor or HR department but you should only do this as soon as you have enough evidence.

Make sure you take some evidence to prove the difference between your hours worked and the pay you have received.  In other words do not leave tracking your own hours to your employer.

If they admit that a genuine mistake has been made you may be lucky and get the matter solved quickly.

However, as normally happens with wage theft cases, your employer may be unlikely to admit to it as it will most likely have been done on purpose. If this happens you will need to talk to an attorney.

Speak With an Attorney

As soon as you have contacted an employment law attorney you can hand over all the evidence you presented to your employer proving the wage theft. The attorney can then decide what action to take.

She or he will probably approach your employer first. If this is unsuccessful the next move is to file a complaint with your state’s Department of Labor which overseas violations of Wage and Hour Law.

If the Labor commissioner agrees that a violation has taken place then the next step your attorney will take is file a lawsuit against your employer.

If the case is won you should get your wage theft repaid and depending on whether your employer’s action was deliberate you may get punitive damages as well.

Plaintiffs have won millions of dollars in compensation in wage theft cases. The key thing to remember is that most states limit the time allowed to file a wage theft claim.

This is called the statute of limitations and if you miss the deadline to make your claim you may not have another chance to get back your wage theft.

Additional Resources