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What Is Wage Theft?

What Is Wage Theft?

Wage theft occurs in a number of industries, and in a variety of ways.

What Is Wage Theft?

As employers look to keep costs down, there are a number of ways that they may look to cut corners. Unfortunately, one way that some unsavory companies have found to increase their profits is through paying their employees less. At times, this occurs through the illegal practice of wage theft.

According to a skilled California employment lawyer, wage theft occurs when an employer either does not pay or underpays employees for the hours that they have worked. It can be intentional or unintentional. Wage theft can include any of the following:

  • Paying less than the minimum wage;
  • Refusing to provide overtime wages;
  • Paying employees the tipped minimum wage for non-tipped work;
  • Failing to give workers required meal breaks; or
  • Requiring employees to work off-the-clock

In California, employers are required to play non-exempt employees overtime at a rate of 1.5 times their pay rate for any hours worked in excess of eight hours in one day, or over forty hours in one week. If employees work more than twelve hours in one day, employers must pay a rate of 2 times their normal rate of pay.

The minimum wage is currently $11.00 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees. Some cities have higher minimum wages. Employers cannot count tips as part of the minimum wage. If employees are required to work a split shit — i.e., where their work schedule is split into two or more parts — employers are required to pay an extra hour of minimum wage each day that it occurs.

Wage theft is particularly common in restaurants, where many employees have been victims of wage theft by their employees. The system that many restaurants use to distribute tips can be confusing — and often leads to abuse. Some restaurants ask employees to record breaks without taking them, or they will simply discourage employees from taking breaks in violation of the law.

A recent California case illustrates how common wage theft is — particularly in the restaurant industry. The California Labor Commissioner recently reported a $4 million settlement with Burma Ruby Burmese Cuisine and Rangoon Ruby Burmese Cuisine restaurants in the Bay Area. The settlement covers 380 employees across multiple restaurants. According to workers, the restaurant failed to pay overtime and did not pay minimum wage or split shift premiums. The Commissioner also levied sick leave penalties against the restaurant. After workers complained to the Commissioner’s office, an investigation revealed numerous violations. In particular, the restaurants put chefs on a fixed salary, and then required them to work approximately 10 hours per week of overtime without compensating them for their time.

If you have been a victim of wage theft, an experienced employment lawyer can help. The skilled legal professionals of PLBSH have a strong track record of standing up for the rights of employees. Contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or to schedule a free initial consultation.

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