Millions of workers in all types of industries are having their wages stolen by employers who fail to comply with federal and state wage and hour laws. The dollar amounts that workers are losing due to these illegal practices are staggering. Even by conservative estimates put out by a business-funded think tank, companies steal $19 billion a year in unpaid overtime wages from their workforces. The actual losses suffered by workers are almost certainly far greater.
Don’t let wage theft take hard earned dollars out of your pay. The following are several situations that should prompt workers to take a closer look at the legality of the way that they are paid:
- You are paid hourly and receive the same “straight time” rate for all hours worked, including hours over 40 per week.
- You are paid a “salary” for all hours worked, but do not have a job that involves management, supervision of other employees or the ability to make important business decisions.
- You are paid a “piece rate” or “day rate” but not time and a half for the hours worked over 40 per week.
- You are required to perform work “off the clock” – before your shift, after your shift or while at home. Unpaid mandatory meetings and training would also fall into this category.
- You are classified as an independent contractor when you are really an employee under the control of an employer. This is a very common scheme to avoid paying legally required overtime and the employer’s share of payroll taxes. It is estimated that more than 3 million workers are misclassified by their employers as independent contractors.
While there are both state and federal agencies responsible for policing and enforcing the wage and hour laws that aim to prevent wage theft, the reality is that they cannot keep up with the vast number of violations. The U.S. Department of Labor, which is responsible for enforcing federal overtime pay laws, only has just over 1,000 investigators nationwide who are tasked with enforcing these laws in more than 7 million workplaces. This creates a scenario in which the average employer has just a .001% chance of being in any given year. So, the chances of getting caught – let alone having to pay back wages owed – are so remote that most wage cheats don’t have to think twice about the consequences of breaking the law. Things aren’t any better on the state level – most states have fewer than ten investigators.
So, the larger responsibility for identifying and correcting large scale wage theft due to overtime pay violations falls on informed workers who take action and private lawyers who handle overtime pay claims. Firms like The Lore Law Firm provide FREE and CONFIDENTIAL reviews for workers with questions and concerns about their overtime pay and handle cases on a contingent fee basis.
Bosses and HR cannot be relied on for accurate answers to the question – shouldn’t I be paid overtime? There are strict time limits that apply to any claim to recover unpaid overtime, so procrastination can be costly. If you have any doubts as to your entitlement to overtime, you should contact the overtime pay experts at The Lore Law Firm for a free and confidential review of your particular situation. Call 1-866-559-0400, email Michael Lore at [email protected] or submit your information using our convenient Case Evaluation form.