Wage theft, while a covert practice, exists in workplaces across the nation. It represents a significant concern for hard-working individuals who rightfully expect full compensation for their labor. Employers may employ a range of tactics to withhold wages, either by error or with the intent to take advantage of their workforce. Understanding the signs of wage theft and knowing your rights is important for ensuring that you receive the compensation you deserve.
According to the National Employment Law Project, over 104,000 Indiana employees filed claims in 2020 for wage theft. If you work in Indiana, familiarizing yourself with the common practices of wage theft can empower you to identify potential infractions and seek recourse.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, most employees qualify for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week. If your employer does not compensate you for overtime hours worked, they are withholding wages you have rightfully earned.
For jobs that depend on tips, such as waitstaff roles, employers must ensure that combined wages and tips meet the federal minimum wage. If your employer takes a portion of your tips without ensuring you still meet the minimum wage threshold, this constitutes wage theft.
While certain deductions from your paycheck, like taxes and agreed-upon benefits, are standard, any unauthorized or unexplained deductions can be signs of wage theft. Always examine your paycheck for any unexpected reductions.
Not paying for all hours worked
Your employer should compensate you for all hours you have worked, including any time spent preparing for work, attending mandatory meetings or any additional tasks assigned outside of regular work hours. If you notice discrepancies between your worked hours and your compensated hours, this could be a sign of wage theft.
Some employers might misclassify workers as independent contractors rather than employees to avoid paying certain benefits or overtime. If you perform tasks similar to those of regular employees but do not receive similar compensation or benefits, your employer may have misclassified you.
Protecting your wages requires vigilance and an understanding of the signs of wage theft. If you believe your employer in Indiana is not compensating you fairly, seek information about your rights and the steps you can take to rectify the situation. Everyone deserves fair pay for their work, and by staying informed and proactive, you can ensure you receive the compensation you have rightfully earned.