What are some examples of wage theft?

When an employer refuses to pay all the compensation owed to its workers, the employer is committing wage theft. Wage theft can happen to all kinds of employees and independent contractors, including temporary workers, salespersons, hourly wage earners, and those who earn an annual salary or commission. Employees can get their money back, plus damages, by taking legal action against the employer. Without stepping up to take legal action, the employer will likely get away with the wage theft and continue to victimize other employees.

 Below are some common examples of wage theft in California: 

  • Misclassifying workers to avoid paying commissions or overtime
  • Failing to pay overtime or track overtime hours
  • Not providing meal and rest breaks or deducting time even if the employee did not receive the break
  • Withholding commissions or modifying a written commissions plan to avoid paying commissions
  • Failing to pay overtime to non-exempt inside salespersons or not factoring sales commissions into overtime
  • Requiring off-the-clock work
  • Withholding final wages
  • Making unauthorized paycheck deductions or stealing tips
  • Not reimbursing employees for business expenses
  • Paying less than minimum wage

The laws governing whether employees are classified as exempt or non-exempt; or whether they are employees or independent contractors are complex. Under California law, there are separate overtime pay rules for employees in specific occupations. Violating these rules is a form of wage theft. A skilled employment attorney can advise you whether you have been classified correctly.

For example, many salaried IT workers are not compensated for working over 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week, even though some are entitled to overtime pay, particularly if they provide technical support or spend most of their time testing debugging, or executing instructions provided by others.  

Even if very highly compensated, inside salespersons may also be entitled to overtime if they spend more than half their time inside the office (or home office) and earn more salary than commissions in any given pay period.

One challenge for workers is proving the amount of actual hours they worked, particularly if the employer does not have an accurate timekeeping system or has manipulated that system. A skilled employment lawyer can compel your employer to turn over all electronic records and analyze them to support your wage claim. Your attorney can also obtain testimony from witnesses who will lend support to your claims.

These are just a few common examples of wage theft in California. If your employer is not paying you the total amount you have earned, speak to an experienced San Francisco Bay Area employment law attorney. McCormack Law Firm can help you review your legal options to recover your wages.

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