What Is Wage Theft?

Our San Diego Employment Lawyer Explains Common Examples of Wage Theft in California

Employers across the U.S. are responsible for stealing billions of dollars in wages each year. According to a 2017 report released by the Economic Policy Institute, workers lose an average of $3,300 to minimum wage violations alone each year. Not paying the minimum wage is only one example of how an employer can steal your wages. What is wage theft? There are plenty of other scenarios that may constitute wage theft.

Examples of Wage Theft in California

Below, our San Diego employment lawyer discusses common examples of wage theft in California. However, if you want to discuss whether your situation qualifies as wage theft, then we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation.

Employer Misclassification

Misclassification may occur when an employer improperly classifies employees as independent contractors to avoid paying for payroll taxes, workers’ comp or health benefits or supplies necessary to conduct job duties. Additionally, employers may misclassify hourly employees as salaried supervisors to avoid paying overtime.

Being Paid Less Than Minimum Wage

As we mentioned above, failing to pay workers the minimum wage is a common example of wage theft. In California, as of 2021, the minimum wage is $14 per hour for employers with more than 25 workers and $13 for employers with 25 or fewer workers.

Denial of Paid Sick Leave

Employees may be eligible for paid sick leave under the right circumstances. If an employer denies paid sick leave to an eligible worker, it is an example of wage theft. Due to recent changes in California employment laws, many workers accrue paid sick leave. Not being paid promised vacations or time off might also count as wage theft. Contact our San Diego employment lawyer if you are not sure whether your situation qualifies.

Unauthorized Paycheck Deductions

Some employers are brazen when it comes to wage theft. If an employer takes money directly out of your paycheck without permission or sufficient reason, then it may qualify as wage theft. There are only a few scenarios where an employer can take money directly from a paycheck. For instance, they may need your permission in writing.

Another common type of unauthorized deduction occurs in the food and service industry. Employers may sometimes take tips from their workers.

Not Receiving Final Wages

Employers may sometimes withhold your last paycheck. In some cases, this might be because you did not return workplace property to the employer. However, there are also plenty of instances of employers simply withholding the last paycheck without a good reason.

If you lost your job and your employer withholds all or some of the paycheck, then it may be wage theft. We strongly recommend contacting us if you have questions about recovering final wages or benefits.

Violation of Employment Contracts

Some employment contracts may stipulate pay rates, commission or bonuses. If your employer fails to pay these rates, it may be a violation of your employment contract and wage theft. Contact our employment lawyer if you have more questions about employment contract violations in California.

How to File a Wage Claim in California

You should speak with our San Diego employment attorney if you have any questions about how to file a wage claim in California. We can answer your questions about the process or potentially other legal options for holding your current or former employer accountable.

Fighting Wage Theft in California? Contact Our Employment Lawyer for a Free Consultation

Questions about California labor laws and wage theft? Contact our San Diego employment lawyer for a free consultation. Attorney Evan Gould can explain your legal rights under California and federal law. Call (619) 941-0667 or use the contact form on our site to schedule a consultation.

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