The UCLA Labor Center claims Los Angeles workers lose a combined $26.2 million from wage theft every week. This means Los Angeles has one of the highest rates of wage theft in the country. There are multiple ways employers steal wages. The following examples of wage theft can happen in any industry.
- Employee misclassification: Employers may misclassify employees as independent contractors. This allows employers to pay employees less and deny benefits. In addition, employers can misclassify employees as nonexempt managerial workers to avoid paying overtime.
- Working off-the-clock: Employers may demand employees work before or after their scheduled shifts without pay. In 2012, a chain of Orange County car washes was ordered to hand employees $800,000 in back pay. It turns out the car wash chain had asked employees to show up on standby hours before their shifts began in case they were needed. None of these employees were paid while waiting.
- Deductions from pay: Employees may have wages deducted from their paychecks. They may also be charged for equipment necessary to carry out their primary job duties.
- Denying minimum wage: Employers may commit wage theft by not paying their workers the state minimum wage.
- Failure to pay: Employers may deny wages altogether. For example, if an employee is fired and his or her last paycheck is withheld.
How Can You Recover Stolen Wages?
There are ways to recover stolen wages, but it can be difficult without the help of an experienced attorney. It is also important to record and hold onto evidence, such as pay stubs, a tally of work hours or correspondence with the employer.
Successful wage theft claims come down to paperwork, so the more evidence you have, the better. An attorney can help you secure stolen wages by filing a claim with the California Labor Board or by filing a lawsuit. Additional options may be available depending on your circumstances.
The Los Angeles wage theft attorneys at the Law Offices of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob can help you explore options for recovering wages.