Many employers engage in a practice known as “wage theft”. Wage theft occurs when an employer willfully underpays or fails to pay employees. While many practices of employers may appear in good faith, some employers blatantly take advantage of employees.


Wage theft can take many forms:

  • Payment of less than minimum wage;
  • Requiring employees to clock out and continue working;
  • Requiring employees to work off-the-clock;
  • Illegally shaving time at the beginning and end of shifts;
  • Forcing employees to work through meal or rest periods;
  • Failing to pay employees and extra hour of pay for missed meal and rest periods;
  • Requiring employees to bank overtime hours;
  • Requiring employees to share tips with supervisors;
  • Taking unauthorized deductions from paychecks;
  • Requiring employees to pay for their own uniforms;
  • Having an expiration date on accumulated vacation pay ;
  • Not paying for travel time to job sites;

Many employers are creative when it comes to cheating employees out of wages. For example:

  • Employers will misclassify employees as “independent contractors” to avoid paying business expenses and overtime pay;
  • Employers will pay employees piece-rate, sometimes at less than minimum wage, to avoid paying minimum wages and overtime pay;
  • Employers will pay overtime based upon an understated hourly base wage. The hourly base wage must include all non-discretionary bonuses. However, some employers do not include bonus pay into the hourly wage calculation;
  • Employers will misclassify certain employees as “managerial” and pay salary. While the salary is intended to compensate employees for all hours worked, it usually does not compensate for overtime hours at overtime rates;
  • Employers will have multi-tiered pay rates for different types of work, making it almost impossible to determined if all wages have been paid;
  • Employers will require employees to arrive at the workplace early to prepare for the start of the shift. Some employees will be required to put on uniforms or walk long distances within a factory to get to their workstation. This time is compensable;
  • Employers will require employees to work for two separate employers, in name only, to avoid paying overtime pay;
  • Employers will deduct unauthorized overtime from time cards, with the excuse that the overtime work was not authorized;
  • Employers will require employees to complete paperwork at the end of their shift and process work orders, after clocking out;
  • Employers will fail to pay prevailing wages on public works jobs;
  • Employers will withhold money for payment of benefits such as vacation or retirement, yet never turn the payments over to trust accounts for the benefit of the employees;
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The California Legislature enacted the Wage Theft Protection Act of 2011,

which went into effect January 1, 2012. The Act requires that all employers provide employees, upon hire, a notice of employment related information. The notice includes for example the legal name of the employer, their address and phone number. The information includes the rates of pay, and whether the rate is by the hour, the shift, the day, week or by salary piece rate, commission or otherwise.

While the Wage Theft Protection Act of 2011 will not stop employers for stealing wage,

it will assist employees in knowing what they are suppose to be paid. If you believe you’ve been the victim of wage theft, you should contact our office immediately for an evaluation.

For more information or for a free case evaluation call 1-877-219-8481


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