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Recognizing wage theft: Signs every employee should know

It is important for employees to be aware of their rights and be mindful of the risk of wage theft. You may not realize that wage theft takes many different forms including illegal deductions and unpaid work time.

There are several common signs of wage theft to watch for.

Unpaid overtime hours

When you work overtime hours, your employer should compensate you accordingly. If you track your work hours and find that your employer short-pays your work hours, it may be wage theft.

Minimum wage violations

Minimum wage laws define the lowest amount that your employer can pay for hourly work. If your paycheck consistently falls below the mandated minimum wage for your area, that could qualify as wage theft. Stay informed about the minimum wage laws in your jurisdiction so you can ensure that you receive fair compensation.

Off-the-clock work

If your employer encourages you to do job duties before clocking in, after clocking out or at home without compensation, that could constitute wage theft. You should receive compensation for all hours worked, even if it is only a few minutes before your shift starts or after it ends.

Pay stub discrepancies

Your pay stub, timecard and paycheck should all match for each given pay period. Make sure you review these documents for consistency because any variation, unauthorized deductions or unclear information could be wage theft.

In 2019, the Department of Labor cited approximately 8,500 employers for wage theft. Workers should understand the signs of potential losses and advocate for the compensation that they deserve. The more you learn about how employers steal wages from their employees, the easier it is to protect your rights.