In an ideal world, every employer would be honest and every employee would be properly valued for his or her service. Unfortunately, that's not the reality for many employees. Whether you work mostly for tips in a restaurant, toil away in retail, or have an office job somewhere, your employer may be cheating you out of a fair wage.
Here are some of the most common ways that employers will try to underpay their employees:
1. Denying salaried employees overtime
Many salaried employees mistakenly believe that they aren't eligible for overtime. That's largely untrue. In fact, as of Jan. 1, 2020, if you make less than $35,568 per year (or $684 per week), you likely qualify for overtime. Even better, incentive payments like commissions can't be used to satisfy more than 10% of that amount.
2. Classifying employees as independent contractors
This is a neat way to avoid paying employees a fair wage (since independent contractors are without many of the same rights) and to skip out on other duties — like paying payroll taxes and workers' compensation insurance premiums for those workers. However, if your boss pretty much controls where and when you work, how you work, and whether or not you can subcontract your work out, you may be an employee — and therefore entitled to fair compensation and other protections.
3. Working an employee off the clock
If your boss asks you to clock out and keep working in order to make up for lost time, a bad day, or a missing coworker, that's illegal. Similarly, if you're entitled to breaks during your shift (and you probably are) or a lunch, asking you to eat at your desk or keep working is also illegal. Other ways that employers sneak a little free labor out of their employees is through after-hours meetings, prep work in a kitchen that's not timed, and after-hours paperwork.
4. Shifting hours to another week
Sometimes an employer will go to great lengths to avoid paying any overtime. To do that, they may work an employee over 40 hours but tack on the "extra" time to the following week in order to avoid the appearance of owing overtime. If your employer tracks your hours and shifts anything over 40 into another week (or a whole different pay period), that's illegal.
If your employer has cheated you out of wages, you may be owed significant compensation. A fair pay attorney can help you assess your losses and pursue your legal rights.
When was the last time you were forced to defend your business? If you are like most company owners, you might not be prepared for the kind of legal battles your adversaries can throw at you, which is why you should be ready with a great business attorney. I started working with legal counsel a few years ago, and it has made a tremendous difference with my confidence. Now, I feel like I am ready for anything, even when the future of my business isn't sure. This blog is all about working with legal counsel to navigate the harsh waters lawsuits can throw at you.