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Employer wage theft is unlawful, yet continues to harm workers

California has some of the most worker-friendly employment laws in the nation, yet many employees still experience wage theft in the workplace. Employees may try to resolve the matter by taking it to the boss, but in many cases, the unlawful conduct continues.

Although wage theft can happen in any job, those earning low wages are often more at risk than high-wage earners. Some employers believe they can get away with stealing employee pay because low paid workers may be more likely to fear losing their job if they say anything or may not realize  there’s anything wrong.

How do you know it’s theft?

Employers must pay their personnel for all the time they spend on duty in a pay period. They are not allowed to take illegal pay deductions and may not penalize workers by withholding earnings.

Other examples of employer wage theft under California law include the following:

  • Taking tips from employees
  • Bouncing employee paychecks
  • Not reimbursing covered work expenses
  • Paying less than the state minimum wage
  • Not paying state-mandated overtime wages
  • Not allowing employees to use their paid sick leave

A little-known type of wage theft occurs if employers deny their workers proper meal and rest breaks.

What can you do about it?

As mentioned above, many people hesitate to seek a remedy for wage theft because they fear losing their jobs or suffering employer retaliation. However, following a formal plan or procedure can protect you against wrongful termination and retaliation.

Keep an eye on your wages, report incorrect pay to your employer (every time it happens) and ask for a solution. Doing this shows you tried to have the matter corrected multiple times. Keeping a log or record of employer theft and your efforts to correct it can strengthen your case and deter retaliation.

If your employer continues stealing your wages, you may have enough evidence to seek a legal remedy and obtain your lost pay.


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