If you have a reliable employer who appears to pay you the correct wages on time every pay day, you probably would never have a reason to complain. However, not all employers are that responsible. Every year, billions of dollars of wage theft occurs, which leaves employees out of pocket, but they are often too scared to complain. The most common victims are hourly wage workers. Wage theft is when employers fail to pay employees according to the law. It is the legal responsibility of employers to log and calculate their employees hours accurately. The employee is not required to do this job for them.
Examples of Wage Theft by Employers
There are some clear examples of wage theft that commonly take place, which are;
- failing to pay any wages at all;
- paying an amount that falls below the minimum wage;
- failing to pay overtime,
- not permitting employees to take rest and meal breaks,
- failing to pay for sick leave or taking workers’ tips,
- paying workers with dud checks with no funds available,
- forcing employees to log fewer hours than they have actually worked.
How Pay Stubs Can Help
If you are concerned about wage theft, one way you can monitor what you are being paid is to access your pay stubs. You can normally get access to them if you contact your boss’s HR or payroll department. Many employers store pay stubs online so you can request the access information. You will then be able to view each pay stub and print them if you wish.
Every time an employer pays an employee, they are required to give a statement that has:
- your employer’s name + address;
- hours worked;
- time frame of pay period;
- gross wages;
- net wages.
You should keep your own records which you can use to compare with the online pay stubs created by your employer. You should add details to your own records so they can be used as evidence of wage theft such as:
- name of supervisor;
- name of employer;
- your exact hours worked;
- when and how much you were paid.
What You should Do If Things Don’t Add Up
As long as you have clear records of your own, that show they do not match your pay stubs you have grounds to complain. Sometimes it is not easy to confront an employer which you may otherwise have a good relationship with, but you are the one to suffer if your employer commits wage theft. There are several steps to take when you discover the differences between your calculations and your pay stubs doesn’t add up. The first is to inform your supervisor as s/he may be sympathetic and recognize the discrepancy straightaway. If your supervisor thinks you should take the matter further you should talk to someone in your HR department. If the HR worker refuses to discuss the matter or refuses to recognize the discrepancy, then you should contact an employment law attorney.
Speak With an Attorney
Your attorney will go over the evidence of wage theft that you have provided and suggest what should be done next. The attorney will probably approach your HR department first to request a justification for the discrepancy between your employer generated pay stub and your detailed records.
As so much wage theft takes place, it is unlikely the HR department is prepared to take responsibility for the difference between the two records. The next step is to inform the Department of Labor in your state. This is the body responsible for overseeing Wage and Hour violations that come under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The Labor Commissioner will probably approach your employer and demand an explanation. If this draws a blank, mediation may be recommended instead of going straight into a lawsuit. If all fails with mediation then the next step is a lawsuit as this enables you to get back the wage theft and your attorney’s fees. If you have suffered emotionally due to the wage theft then you may be able to obtain compensation amount for pain and suffering. What you and your lawyer will need to do is ensure the lawsuit is filed before the deadline date set by states. It is called the Statute of Limitations and the deadline varies between states.