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Common examples of wage theft

by | Apr 22, 2021 | Employment Law |

The economy is now in recovery mode, but it may not be long ago that employers asked workers to make sacrifices. It could come in a variety of familiar forms, some of which are not legal. In other words, some employers intentionally or unintentionally broke employment law regulations when they took or kept wages that the employees deserve.

Overtime can be an issue

It is not unusual for employers to ask workers to stay late or work extra days. Workers often are happy for the extra money, knowing that they will get over time as guaranteed by the Fair Labor Standards Act. While some professions are exempt from overtime pay, employees often qualify for overtime pay.


There is a lot of discussion about who is contract labor. Employers often try to shift jobs to contract status, avoiding the obligation to pay workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, payroll taxes, and other benefits.

Working off the clock

We’ve already mentioned that employers will ask workers to put in extra time, but employers cannot require workers to fulfill their duties while off the clock. This includes showing up early for work to prepare for the workday (such as putting on a uniform or straightening up before business hours. It also includes employees who work through breaks or lunch without pay.

Illegal deductions

Employees cannot take unauthorized deductions, such as paying for equipment required for the job or dorm living if they reside onsite.

No pay

Internships will have their own rules, but regular full-time employment does not start with a free trial period to “train” workers. Other typical examples include paying for travel time as work when workers go from worksite to worksite to perform their duties or withholding an employee’s final paycheck.

Failure to pay agreed-upon wage

The employer who agrees to specific terms in a contract when hiring the employee cannot change the agreed-upon terms without renegotiating the contract. They may also try to issue a check without a full breakdown of hours, which turns out to be less than the actual hours worked. They may also try not to honor a prearranged increase in pay written into the contract.

Employees have rights

Those with questions can look at the state and federal employment law websites. If there appears to be a violation, they are within their rights to hold their employer accountable for wage theft.