Wage theft is an alarming issue that affects countless employees, often unbeknownst to them. It involves the exploitation of workers through the denial of wages or benefits rightfully owed to them. In New Jersey, various actions may constitute wage theft.
Wage theft is not merely about employers failing to pay their employees. It encompasses a broad array of actions where an employer intentionally underpays an employee or fails to pay overtime, among other unscrupulous practices. The key element is intent—the employer must knowingly, or with reckless disregard, fail to pay an employee’s due wages.
For instance, if an employer pays less than the agreed-upon wage or less than the minimum wage, it is wage theft. It is wage theft if the employer does not pay for overtime hours. However, if an employer makes an honest mistake in calculating pay, it is not wage theft. Correcting such mistakes promptly when brought to their attention separates a genuine error from intentional malpractice.
Instances of Wage Theft
There are several ways employers can commit wage theft. Here are some common examples:
- Unpaid overtime: The law requires employers to pay employees one-and-a-half times their regular rate for any hours worked beyond 40. If an employer intentionally fails to do so, they are committing wage theft.
- Minimum wage violations: New Jersey law stipulates a minimum wage. If an employer pays less than this, they are breaking the law.
- Illegal deductions: Employers may not make deductions from an employee’s wages unless explicitly allowed by law or authorized in writing by the employee.
- Misclassification of employees: Some employers misclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying overtimeor providing benefits. This practice is illegal and constitutes wage theft.
- Unpaid breaks and off-the-clock work: If an employer requires an employee to work during breaks or before or after their shift without pay, it is wage theft.
Remedies for Wage Theft
If you suspect that your employer has committed wage theft, there are several steps you can take:
- Document the issue: Keep detailed records of your hours worked, pay received, and any communication about pay with your employer.
- Discuss the issue: Sometimes, wage issues may be due to misunderstandings or errors your employer can rectify.
- File a wage claim: If your employer does not address the issue, you can file a wage claim with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Our South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Can Help You Understand Your Wage Rights
Wage theft is a serious concern that can significantly impact workers’ livelihoods. Understanding what constitutes wage theft and how to address it is essential. If your employer is engaging in activity that could be wage theft, speak with our South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC today. Call us at 856-235-7075 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients in South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.