Employees who steal from their companies risk being fired or facing criminal charges. When an employer steals an employee’s salary, they usually get to keep the money with no repercussions. Wage theft is astonishingly common, yet it is seldom treated as a substantial civil violation, let alone a criminal one, despite the fact that it steals money from those who really need it. Minimum wage violations, for example, are a common type of pay theft, and wage theft does not affect all workers equally.
Who gets affected the most?
Minimum wage violations hurt the lowest-paid earners—those who can least afford to lose their jobs. Wage theft pulls many families into poverty and increases employees’ reliance on government assistance, costing taxpayers money. By putting downward pressure on salaries, lost earnings can have a severe influence on state and local economies, as well as other employees in damaged industries.
Wage theft can appear in a variety of ways. Employees are in violation of the minimum wage if they are paid less than the federal, state, or local minimum wage, whichever is the highest and applies to the employee in question. Employees must be paid at a lower hourly rate than the legal minimum in order to be considered victims of minimum wage breaches, even if they are not paid on an hourly basis. Non-exempt employees who are paid weekly or on a salary must be paid at a level comparable to an hourly rate of the minimum wage for all hours worked; minimum wage violations can occur when hourly workers are unfairly forced to perform unpaid hours or when salaried employees are unfairly forced to perform unpaid hours.
Because of their specific legal classification, tipped workers are especially vulnerable to payment fraud. Employers of workers who often get gratuities, such as restaurant servers and nail salon attendants, may credit workers’ tips against their mandated minimum wage in most states and under federal law. For example, federal law enables companies to pay tipped employees as little as 1.5 euro per hour, as long as their tips total at least the minimum wage over the course of a week. If the tips are insufficient, employers must make up the shortfall.
The workers who fall prey to these scams are struggling every day to make ends meet. Such circumstances make life harder for them. Hence, there must be a creative solution put into place so that the workers are paid fairly and timely.