The Economic Policy Institute says workers in the United States lose about $8 billion in wages every year due to wage theft. That is a very large sum that often is taken from relatively low-paid workers who really could use that missing pay much more than those who pilfer it.
“Wage theft” refers to the underpayment of earned hourly wages and overtime. Wage theft is not a formal criminal offense but might lead to fraud charges when done on a large scale.
If your pay is less than it should be, you should notify your immediate supervisor. That might be all it takes to obtain your back pay. If not, you might need the help of an experienced employment lawyer to recoup your unpaid wages.
When Underpayment Becomes Wage Theft?
A single incident in which your employer pays you less than you earned does not rise to the level of wage theft. In such cases, you should be able to obtain your back pay by notifying your employer.
When your employer routinely or repeatedly underpays you, you might have a valid claim for wage theft. It is important to track your hours so that you know what you should be paid and when the amounts are not adding up.
Tracking your hours and saving copies of your pay stubs will help you to show when there are pay discrepancies. When discrepancies continue to occur, an experienced employment lawyer could help you to file a legal claim for unpaid wages and other damages.
Underpayment of Minimum Wages or Overtime
As of Jan. 1, 2022, New Jersey’s minimum wage rose to $13 per hour for most workers. Some seasonal and agricultural workers have a lower minimum wage, but all wages for all workers in New Jersey should rise to at least $15 per hour by 2027.
Some employers might not have adjusted their payment of minimum wages as of Jan. 1, 2022. Those who have not are violating state law and committing wage theft.
Your employer also should pay overtime whenever you work more than 40 hours for the work week. Some exemptions apply, but most hourly workers should earn 1.5 times their hourly wage for any hours beyond 40 worked during a single week.
Lack of Payment for Regular Work-Related Activities
Another way in which wage theft could occur is when your employer requires you to regularly perform work prior to or following your shift. You might have to perform other regular tasks while off the clock, like preparing work equipment or materials. Maybe your employer demands you clean a customer area before your shift begins and after it has concluded.
No matter what the task might be, if you have to do it while you are at work and off the clock, your employer might be committing wage theft.
Marlton Employment Lawyers at Burnham Douglass Help to Enforce Wage Laws
If you suspect your employer is committing wage theft, the experienced Marlton employment lawyers at Burnham Douglass can help. You can call 856-751-5505 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our law offices in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey. We represent clients in New Jersey, Camden County, Burlington County, Atlantic County, Gloucester County, Mercer County, and throughout New Jersey.