One of the basic tenants of the worker and employer relationship is that employees receive payment for the time they work. While this arrangement is supposed to be straightforward, some employers try to bend the rules or withhold payment to their employees. Oftentimes, it falls to the busy employee to notice these wage discrepancies and take action.
Because wage theft is one of the most common employment problems that workers face, every employee should know the common tactics used to withhold or deny their proper wages. Learn three common ways that businesses withhold wages from workers and the steps you can take to get compensation.
Read three ways that businesses try to underpay workers
Here are a few ways that employers can attempt to steal your rightful wages:
- Unpaid wages: Some unscrupulous employers may attempt to withhold your overtime pay, or they may inaccurately calculate your wages. Workers should keep track of the time they work and compare that to their paycheck. Businesses in California must include an employee's total time worked and their total pay on paychecks.
- Misclassification: Some businesses may classify their employees as independent contractors so they can deny overtime payment and pay workers under the minimum wage. Misclassified employees may be able to get compensation from their employer for unpaid overtime, employment taxes and other forms of lost income.
- Denied meal and rest breaks: Nonexempt workers in California have a right to meal and rest breaks depending on the length of their shift. The California Labor Code section 250 requires employers to give workers a 30-minute meal break if they work for more than five hours in a day. Employees who work at least three and a half hours in a day must receive a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked or major fraction thereof. Workers who have had their wages docked for taking their protected breaks can file a claim to get compensation from their employers.
If you believe that your employer failed to pay your full wages, you should file a wage claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Because of the complexities involved in this process, you may want to get help from a knowledgeable employment law attorney. A skilled lawyer can handle your paperwork and fight to get your full compensation.