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Wage Theft: What It Is, and What You Can Do About It

March 30, 2023 Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages

Wage Theft Often Goes Unreported. Don’t Let It Happen to You.

Wage theft occurs when your employer withholds pay that you’ve rightfully earned. It’s a huge problem in the United States; one study by Cooper and Kroeger documented that approximately 2.4 million workers lost about $8 billion per year due to one kind of wage theft alone.

Wage theft often goes unreported—frequently because employees don’t realize what’s happening. There are a variety of ways that your employer can steal from you, and while some are more obvious, others are harder to spot. Here are a few tips.

What Does Wage Theft Look Like?

Wage theft is easy to miss because often it’s presented as a kind of informal request for help—which you feel obligated to acquiesce to. For instance, if your boss asks you to stay 10 minutes late to help close up shop even after you’ve clocked out for the day, it can seem like a simple request for help—but actually it’s wage theft. 

It can be hard to say no, because the ask (just ten minutes of unpaid labor) seems so small, and it’s phrased as a casual request for a little extra help, which many are conditioned to give and feel uncomfortable turning down. However, all those unpaid minutes add up. 

Some other situations that may constitute wage theft include:

  • Failing to compensate you for purchasing a uniform or other work-related supplies.
  • Failing to send you your last paycheck after you leave your job.
  • Withholding tips that are rightfully yours.
  • Asking you to work on your lunch break or cutting your lunch break short.
  • Misclassifying you so they don’t have to pay you minimum wage or overtime.
  • Repeatedly sending you the wrong amount in your paycheck even though you’ve notified them about it.
  • Deducting money from your paycheck for things like “company fundraisers” without your permission.
  • Changing your time card to make it look like you worked fewer hours than you did.

What To Do if You Are a Victim of Wage Theft

If you suspect your employer is withholding pay from you, you should speak to a knowledgeable employment attorney.

Your attorney can help you determine the scope of the violation—and hold your employer accountable. Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today. 

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.