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Is your boss 'stealing' your wages?

Money flying away2.jpegCalifornia has some of the toughest laws in the nation when it comes to protecting workers and making sure they get paid for the work they do. Unfortunately, despite these laws, some employers continue to skirt the rules by trying to pay workers less than they deserve - and less than they are entitled to under the law.

This is wage theft, plain and simple; and even though it is illegal, it occurs far more often than many people know. In, fact according to a report issued by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) last month, wage theft due to minimum wage violations alone likely exceeds $15 billion every year.

Wage theft: the basics

Essentially, wage theft includes any situation in which an employer fails to pay its workers what they are due under the law. Common examples of wage theft include:

  • Failing to pay workers overtime, which, in California, is required any time an individual works more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week
  • Paying less than the legal minimum wage
  • Taking tips from workers or failing to pay tipped employees the difference between their tips and the minimum wage rate
  • Misclassifying workers as independent contractors in order to pay a wage lower than otherwise required by law
  • Requiring workers to work "off-the-clock" either before or after their shifts
  • Denying workers their legally-mandated meal breaks
  • Failing to distribute pay stubs or taking illegal deductions from paychecks

Fortunately, you may have legal options available under California law if your boss has been stealing your wages and not paying you what you are entitled to.

Also, it is important to remember that all workers in California are protected by the state's labor and wage laws, regardless of where they were born - meaning even foreign-born workers may be able to file a claim.

However, navigating this process can sometimes be challenging, which is why it is often best to seek the guidance of any experienced attorney. A skilled lawyer can explain your legal options and help make sure your rights are protected.

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