Wage theft occurs when an employer fails to pay an employee the money they are owed. It’s just as illegal as it sounds. Every worker is entitled to get compensation for their work. In fact, several federal and state laws have been enacted to protect those rights, including the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act.
An employer can short a worker out of their earnings through a variety of ways. Some of these methods of wage theft can include:
- Not paying the minimum wage
- Failing to pay for overtime work
- Not reimbursing for mileage or other company expenses
- Charging payroll fees and other illegal deductions
- Misclassifying the employee to circumvent rules
- Requiring “off the clock” tasks
- Not paying for meal breaks
- Tip-sharing violations
- Keeping records improperly
Many companies now use some form of digital timecard to keep track of employee work hours. This makes payroll accounting easier, but it also makes it simpler to cheat employees out of their wages. A worker needs to be wary of different methods of wage theft that can be embedded into how these digital timecards operate, including the following:
- Rounding an employee’s start and end times to pre-defined increments, such as 15-minute periods
- Shaving time to show the employee worked less hours than they truly worked
- Automatically deducting scheduled breaks regardless of if the employee used the full break time
If you have been the victim of wage theft, it’s important you document what compensation you’ve been denied and that you understand your legal rights. Speak to an experienced Kentucky employment law attorney who can deal with your employer and fight on your behalf.