Wage theft is a serious problem. In the United States, it is estimated that workers are not paid at least $19 billion each year in earned overtime wages. It is estimated that anywhere from $40 billion to $60 billion is stolen from workers each year because of the different kinds of wage theft.
Wage theft takes many forms. It is your job as an employee to be attentive to your paystubs and make sure you are being paid at the agreed rate, which is at least minimum wage, and that you are being paid for all your hours worked and at the overtime rate when it applies to your situation.
If you have been the victim of wage theft, it is possible that you are not alone. Companies often have a pattern of such behavior. Former employees and current employees may have fallen victim to this illegal activity, and they are not being paid all their earnings.
You should maintain documentation that supports your claim, such as paystubs, timecards, witness statements, and other supporting evidence. Coworkers should do the same, and then together, you can prove you are the victims of wage theft.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has a solution for the victims of wage theft. This is true regardless of whether you are a single victim or whether it has become an ongoing problem and pattern within in your company. You should understand the process and know how to act against your employer’s actions and inappropriate behavior, which is also illegal.
You and your coworkers could take collective action against your employer if you have suffered wage theft. A collective action claim is like a class action lawsuit, but it is slightly different. In a class action, everyone who is eligible will qualify, but in a collective action you must opt in to the lawsuit to recover compensation for your damages, including the wages that you earned and are entitled to receive.
This allows you and other employees to sue your employer together, which can be advantageous because you can prove that there was a pattern of illegal behavior from your employer and you can also provide more supporting evidence and documentation. The FLSA gives employees the opportunity to file a collective action lawsuit as a resource for putting an end to the unscrupulous behavior of employers and for helping employees recoup their losses.
To file a collective action lawsuit, the case of the employees must be “similarly situated,” which means they must be subject to common plan, policy, or design of their employer’s, but they can work in different locations or departments. As an example, your employee handbook and job description indicate you must arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled shift to put on protective gear and start up equipment, but you are not to clock in until the scheduled time. You should be paid for those 15 minutes and it can add up significantly.
How To File a Collective Action Lawsuit
If you have been the victim of wage theft, it is a good idea to speak with your employer’s human resources department to try to resolve the matter. Be sure to keep the evidence and only provide them with copies.
Maintain proof that you notified human resources and, also, continue gathering evidence. Keep any correspondence from the employer regarding your complaint and document their response to you bringing up the wage theft with them.
You may want to speak with an attorney. To pursue a claim against your employer for wage theft, you will want to have a lawyer who is experienced in handling such claims. Employment law attorneys are familiar with the state and federal laws that apply to your situation.
You may especially need an attorney to pursue a collective action lawsuit against your employer. The lawyer will need to gather the evidence and supporting details then prepare a list of all the employees who want to pursue the claim.
When you have suffered wage theft, you only have a limited time to pursue a claim against your employer. If you wait too long, you cannot recover compensation for your damages.
If you have been the victim of wage theft, complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page. Share the details of your wage theft with an attorney who handles wage theft claims in your state. Do not delay pursuing a claim against your employer for wage theft.