The pandemic has made it harder for workers. One especially notable example is wage theft by employers. Many of the victims may consider themselves fortunate because they have not been furloughed or laid off. But now a news report warns of the dramatic increase of this troubling problem involving low and minimum wage workers who are least able to protect themselves.
Typical forms of wage theft
Wage theft is the general term for when the employer does not pay workers the legal or agreed-upon amount for services provided. Examples include:
- No overtime pay: Overtime pay is federally mandated as time and a half. This must occur when the employee works over 40 hours.
- Not paying minimum wage: This is currently $7.25 in Indiana, but there is a separate scale for tipped employees ($2.13) or those on commission, but these alternatives should amount to at least minimum wage.
- Inaccurate job title: This can lead to categorizing employees as contractors instead of full-time employees (with accompanying benefits including paid time off or sick leave).
- Tips pooling: Employees may share tips, but managers or owners should not receive a share.
- Inaccurate paycheck: The accounting is not correct, or there are illegal deductions or withholdings.
- Not paying: Some employers string workers along with the false promise to pay them after the job is over.
More common among minorities
According to a Washington, DC, think tank, minorities are the most common victims in these crimes in 2020:
- 84% of LatinX workers were more likely to face wage theft,
- 50% more likely to be women than men
- 50% more likely to be black than white
- Non-citizens were twice as likely to be victims compared to citizens
- LatinX non-citizens who are women are four times more likely to be victims compared to white male citizens
Workers have rights
It is a state and federal law that workers should be paid for their work, even when they are non-citizen migrants. Many workers or groups of workers find it helpful to file a Wage and Hour Claim even during these difficult times. An experienced employment law attorney can help clients get the money they deserve and protect them if the employer tries to retaliate, which is illegal.