There have been more and more cases nationwide that accuse employers of violating minimum wage and overtime laws, erasing work hours and wrongfully taking employees’ tips – all fall under the umbrella of “wage theft.”  According to recent data, federal wage-and-hour lawsuits filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act reached a record high in 2013-2014. Between the dates of April 1st, 2013 and March 31st, 2014, 8,126 federal wage-and-hour lawsuits were filed – nearly a 5% increase from the previous yearly period. The number of cases has risen 438% since 2000. Federal and state officials point to potential motives as fierce competition or a desire for higher profits.

According to an article by the New York Times, a McDonald’s employee in Oakland, California, complained that her paychecks missed a few hours of work time and overtime pay on more than a few occasions. Guadalupe Salazar joined one of seven lawsuits against McDonald’s, proclaiming that workers were cheated out of overtime and hours were erased from timecards. “Basically every time that I worked overtime, it didn’t show up in my paycheck,” Ms. Salazar said. “This is time that I would rather be with my family, and they just take it away.”

This is just one of many cases of wage theft that took place in the recent months, as well as just one of many states experiencing this increase in claims of wage theft. According to the same New York Times article, New York’s attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, has recovered $17 million in wage claims over the past three years. “I’m amazed at how petty and abusive some of these practices are,” said Mr. Schneiderman. “Cutting corners is increasingly seen as a sign of libertarianism rather than the theft that it really is.”

While the state and federal laws regarding overtime pay offer strong protections to employees, most employees who feel they may be the victim of wage theft are not aware of their rights or how to find help with recovering the back wages they are legally owed.  In the majority of cases, law firms who handle wage and hour cases on a contingent fee basis (no fee unless there is a recovery) are the resource they need.

If you believe you may be a victim of wage theft, it’s important to contact an experienced attorney to receive the pay that is rightfully yours. Due to the strict time limits for bringing these claims, it’s important not to waste any time. For a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL review of your circumstances, submit your information to the Lore Law Firm using our convenient Case Evaluation form.

Michael Lore is the founder of The Lore Law Firm. For over 25 years, his law practice and experience extend from representing individuals in all aspects of labor & employment law, with a concentration in class and collective actions seeking to recover unpaid back overtime wages, to matters involving executive severance negotiations, non-compete provisions and serious personal injury (work and non-work related). He has handled matters both in the state and federal courts nationwide as well as via related administrative agencies. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Michael by using our chat functionality.