August 11, 2020

Christopher Anderson

Far too many employers will do whatever they can to try to save a buck or two.  Even more just don’t take the time to know how to follow the wage laws. Unfortunately, these practices often come at the expense of the wages you, as the employee, earned, and should have been paid.

The laws that tell employers how to pay their employees are clear, and these days there are plenty of easy-to-use services that they can use to do things the right way.  When they underpay your wages, don’t pay your overtime at time-and-a-half of your normal wage, or even fail to pay your wages at all, these things are violations of the law! You have the right to seek proper compensation, and may sometimes be entitled to penalties on top of that.

We’ve put together this list of five common ways employers cheat their workers out of their wages… and what to do about them.

1) Overtime issues

Many employers hate overtime, and will do whatever they can to avoid paying it, or to try to underpay it.  

For example, an employer may pay less than the time-and-a-half of your normal wage that is required for overtime hours. They may also attempt to make you work “off the clock” to avoid having to pay overtime, or make you work beyond 40 hours in a week and simply not pay you any overtime for the extra hours. None of these actions are legal.

2) Misclassifying employees

Generally, employees do not have to pay overtime to their salaried employees.  Often, what employers will do, is to call some of their employees “salaried,” when they are really “hourly.” In order to be classified as a “salaried” employee (also known as exempt), your job must meet certain requirements.  Many employers don’t follow that rule, and may owe you overtime.  Sometimes, lots!

Also, in order to avoid paying benefits to some employees, some employers may also attempt to classify workers as “independent contractors” when, under the law, they should be classified as actual employees.

3) Improper deductions for breaks

The law requires that most employees be given break time for things like lunch. Some employers may try to illegally deduct time for breaks from your paycheck, even when you didn’t take the break!  Not only is this illegal (it can be considered “wage theft”) but it may also keep you from earning overtime in some situations.

4) Skimming

This one is pretty straightforward. Some employers actually just take money that you have earned off your paycheck, hoping that you will not notice. Some may also skim hours off your time log and try to claim you did not work as much as you did.  Some even tell employees to clock in after they start work, or clock out before they’re done for the day.  This is another example of wage theft!

5) Tip issues

Employees who earn tips as part of their compensation are at high risk for illegal wage practices. Some employers will attempt to pay their tipped employees less than minimum wage, or force the employee to share their tips with management, without following the very strict rules that apply when you do this.  As a tipped worker, you are entitled to all your tips as well as minimum wage, even if you don’t make minimum wage in tips in a given week. 

For all five of these wage issues, the first thing you need to do is carefully track your hours. Keep a log of the precise dates and times you worked, when you took breaks, and details about the work you were doing. Scrutinize every paycheck you receive closely and make sure it adds up with your calculations for the hours you worked.  

Next, if you think that your employer may be acting illegally when it comes to your wages, overtime, and/or benefits, [contact us at AndersonDodson.] We will help you figure out what you’re owed, and help get paid every penny you are owed.

Remember, this is not a complete list of illegal wage practices. Employers are constantly finding new ways to take advantage of their employees. Not to worry, though, we’re onto them.  If something doesn’t seem right, don’t allow yourself to be a victim. Fight for your wage rights as an employee and give us a call today.