Wage theft is one of the most common types of labor law violations, and many employees don’t even realize that they’re victims of it. Sometimes it can be an honest mistake on the employer’s part, but many industries are known for more intentional types of wage theft. If you’re working in those industries, it can be a good idea to brush up on fair wage laws.
What Is Wage Theft?
Most workers are guaranteed certain wage rights under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and Missouri state laws rights. Those rights include earning at least the minimum wage and getting paid time-and-a-half for time over 40 hours per week. If employers don’t follow those laws and underpay their employees as a result, they have committed wage theft. Common types of wage theft include:
- Incorrectly classifying employees as independent contractors, which gives them fewer benefits and higher tax rates
- Taking an employee’s tips, or having managers participate in a tip pool with employees
- Allowing or requiring employees to perform unpaid work
- Paying less than minimum wage
- Not paying overtime when it’s legally required
Industries With High Levels of Wage Theft
Restaurants and hospitality
Restaurants are particularly known for wage theft. One common problem is managers illegally withholding tips or paying less than the full minimum wage. (There are special minimum wages for some server jobs.) Restaurants also sometime violate the law by paying the lower minimum wage for “non-tip-producing work,” such as cleaning, etc. Hotels also often pay cleaning staff less than minimum wage or improperly classify employees as “independent contractors” when they are legally considered “employees.”
Janitorial and house cleaning services
Like hotels, private house cleaning and janitorial companies often incorrectly classify employees as independent contractors. Others pay by the job and set prices so low that cleaners are making less than minimum wage. Not paying overtime is also a common practice in the industry.
Hospitals and healthcare
While minimum wage violations are fairly rare in the healthcare industry, other types of wage theft are common. Most often, employees aren’t paid overtime when they should be. Employees at some busy or understaffed facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes, may also feel pressured to work off the clock in order to get everything done.
If you suspect you have been a victim of wage theft or other illegal employment practices — including employment discrimination — in Missouri, contact Curran Law Firm today for the compensation you deserve.