Most employees would not recognize signs that they were victims of wage theft. Every year, wage theft drains billions of dollars each year from the pockets of working-class people. Unfortunately, employers often target those who can ill-afford the loss the most. Those who are in low-skill industries and working minimum wage jobs are most likely to be affected because they often don’t know when they can challenge their employers over lost wages –or realize that they’re being cheated.
What are some of the tricks that an employer may use to cheat you out of your due? Consider these:
- Hiring an unpaid intern and working them like anybody else in the company. Internships are supposed to be mutually beneficial to both parties. For the intern, that usually means learning the technical ropes of a job or industry, not handling grunt work that could be done by anybody.
- Misclassifying employees as independent contractors. This gets your employer off the hook when it comes to paying you minimum wage and overtime or giving you health insurance and sick leave.
- Unpaid holiday work and off-the-clock hours. If your employer gives some employees paid holidays and makes others work, that’s stealing from the employees who are stuck working. Similarly, your employer can’t ask you to take work home to finish and work “off the clock” either before or after your shift.
- Shifting hours to avoid overtime pay. This is particularly common in the restaurant industry, where a manager may track an employee’s time each week and then “shift” a few hours to another pay so that the employee never logs more than 40 hours in a week.
These aren’t the only ways that an employer may try to cheat you, by far. If you have suspicions (or know) that you’ve been denied your due wages or benefits, it may be time to seek some experienced assistance.