When an employer does not pay his or her employees all of the money and benefits that they are rightfully owed, this is known as wage theft. According to a recent news article from Pasadena Star News, wage theft is a serious problem in California.
The worst part is that the employees who are victims of wage theft are often the lowest paid or minimum wage workers, so this creates an even greater hardship on people who are working desperately so they can take care of themselves and their families. To get an understanding of how big the problem has become in our area, a recent study from the Economic Policy Institute shows that around $2 billion per year is stolen due to minimum wage violations alone.As our Orange County employment attorneys can explain, this means that employers are regularly paying employees less than minimum wage, despite the fact that this is a clear violation of the state and local labor laws. In some cases, the employees are told they are making minimum wage and then are paid less when it comes to getting a check or even cash payments. In other cases, the employees are even told they are making an amount that is lower than minimum wage. This is not a negotiable point, as an employee cannot simply agree to make less than minimum wage. If this were allowed to happen, employers could pressure employees to take less, and it would drive wages down across entire sections of industry. Many of these minimum wage workers in California work as cooks and dishwashers, gardeners, farmers, waiters, and call center employees.
When we look at the $2 billion figure and break it down to the individual minimum wage worker, we are seeing an average of $64 taken out of each paycheck. This comes out to about $3,400 per year. Image going to the grocery store and not having that $64 each week to have food for your family. This is what unscrupulous employers are doing to thousands of employees each and every week.
The reason they are able to get away with this is because, in many cases, the employees do not say anything. They do not complain to their employer, they do not file a complaint with the state or local department of labor, and they do not speak with an experienced wage and hour theft lawyer.
There are a variety of reasons people do not speak out. First, many people are worried about losing their job. While retaliation does happen, it is also a violation of the labor code, and this can entitle you to compensation in your employment lawsuit. In some cases, workers may be undocumented and afraid of speaking out of fear of immigration problems. While there is certainly an issue here, especially with the current presidential administration and its stance towards immigration, a consultation with an employment attorney is entirely confidential and will not result in you being reported to any authorities, no matter what an untrustworthy employer may tell you.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
Why wage theft is a serious problem in California, May 14, 2017, By Kevin Smith, Pasadena Star News
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