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Wage Theft In California: 3 Things To Know

Paying the minimum wage, refusing to compensate for overtime, or requiring off-the-clock work constitute wage theft. Additionally, it may involve more examples, such as shortening lunch breaks or failing to pay for remote labor. Employers can commit fraud in a variety of ways.

For instance, a business may neglect to pay the minimum wage to its employees. Additionally, companies may underpay employees for hours in the office when they are not working. Because of such, you may want to know some wage theft facts if you work in California to learn how to deal with them. Read on for this insight.

1. How To Spot Wage Theft

Wage theft happens when employers fail to pay employees on time and comply with the law. Paying employees less than the minimum wage, refusing to give benefits, denying employees meal and rest breaks, asking employees to work off-the-clock, and stealing employees’ tips are all examples of wage theft

Wage Theft In California: 3 Things To Know
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Here are the common examples of wage theft in California.

  • No overtime compensation

Do I have a claim for unpaid overtime in California? If you constantly ask this question, it’s a sign to check for any overtime shifts that might have been left unpaid. Employees paid on an hourly basis who work more than 40 hours per week must be reimbursed 50% more.

Supervisors who constantly warn employees that the company does not pay overtime and those additional hours worked will be compensated at the same hourly rate are considered committing wage theft. Furthermore, if your employer compels you to work for more than 40 hours per week but only pays you for those hours worked, you may also consider your employer committing wage theft.

  • Refusal to pay the price agreed upon

When a company pays an employee less than the agreed-upon amount, they can be accounted for wage theft. According to labor groups in the construction sector, contractors frequently pay laborers less than a fourth of what they are entitled to or do not pay at all. So, read your contracts carefully and see if you’re getting paid right.

  • Forcing people to work outside of regular business hours

When supervisors push employees to undertake duties before or beyond their shift, one of the most common forms of wage fraud occurs. Cleaning workstations, calculating currencies, responding to emails, preparing coffee, and erecting equipment are just a few tasks they may force employees like you to do after regular hours.

  • Paying less than the minimum wage

Businesses must pay their employees at least the federal minimum wage. However, multiple service industry workers get less money due to their remuneration structure.

Federal law allows businesses to pay tipped employees as little as $2.13 per hour. It happens if they get enough tip money to meet the minimum wage. Suppose there is a delay in service and an employee does not receive enough tips to meet the minimum. In that case, the employer is liable for the difference. Supervisors regularly fall short of this, especially in the restaurant industry.

2. What To Do As A Victim Of Wage Theft

You may be surprised to learn that victims of wage theft pay significantly more than victims of all other types of stealing combined. On the other hand, government officials often rely on pay theft victims to come forward and submit accusations.

Unlike robbery, which is typically investigated by police, charges of wage theft are frequently examined by the state attorney general’s office, with employers risking civil penalties and fines rather than criminal punishments.

If you believe you have been a victim of wage theft, the essential factor to keep in mind is that you cannot be fired for reporting it. If they make such an attempt, the law is on your side. Suppose you cannot resolve your issue with your employer’s human resources department. In that case, you should consult an employment lawyer to examine your options.

3. How To Report Wage Theft

All California employees have the right to bring a wage theft lawsuit against their employers if they are not paid their appropriate salaries or benefits. All employees are protected under California’s labor laws. When you file for a wage claim, the Labor Commissioner’s Office will examine if you are entitled to compensation or settlement.

One of the first solutions to resolve the wage theft issue is establishing a settlement meeting between you and your employer. Suppose no agreement is reached during the settlement conference. In that case, an officer will analyze the facts and give a ruling on the claim according to wage laws.

The Labor Commissioner does not investigate autonomous contractor complaints. However, an employer may misrepresent an employee’s status as an independent contractor to cheat the employee of wages. Suppose you suspect this has occurred in your situation. In that case, you may submit a wage theft lawsuit to the Labor Commissioner’s Office. A hearing may decide if an employee was designated as an autonomous contractor improperly.


Some employers rob their employees of billions of dollars each year by working them off the clock, not paying the minimum wage, failing to compensate them for overtime labor, etc. Recognizing and reporting wage fraud may help you receive the employee rights and compensation you deserve.


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