Wage theft is one of the most prevalent types of theft in the United States, costing workers billions in lost wages every year. Employers who withhold wages are profiting from potentially criminal activity and exploiting their employees. If you suspect your employer has been engaging in wage theft and preventing you from being paid the hourly wage or salary you are owed and deserve, contact a Minneapolis wage theft lawyer at Schaefer Halleen.
Minneapolis Wage Theft Law
Wage theft commonly presents as payment of an hourly rate that is below the federal, state, or local minimum wage. This form of wage theft often impacts working-class families who cannot afford to lose the earnings they worked so hard for. It is important for employees to remain familiar with minimum wage rates in their city and state in addition to the federal rate, since they are entitled to whichever is highest.
Withholding overtime pay is another common type of wage theft. You are entitled to 1.5 times your usual hourly wage for any time worked beyond 40 hours in a single week. Salaried workers may be exempt from the overtime provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), so it is important that you consult with a Minnesota wage theft attorney to understand your rights.
Instances of wage theft may occur regularly, or they may only happen in certain circumstances. Employers may not prohibit employees from taking meal breaks, make illegal deductions from the employee’s paycheck, or illegally adjust reported work hours – even if the violation occurs only once. Unfortunately, wage theft may also be a form of discrimination that targets certain employees.
MN Worker Protections Against Wage Theft
Minnesota has several laws that protect employees’ wage and hour rights. The Minnesota Wage Theft Prevention Act and the Minnesota Payment of Wages Act, which in turn set minimum wage standards, require that non-exempt workers are paid overtime, hold employers accountable for misclassifying independent contractors, and prohibit wage deductions and tip sharing.
In addition to state protections, federal acts also protect employees. The FLSA is a federal law that creates the right to a minimum wage and overtime pay when employees work over 40 hours a week. Unfortunately, employers often fail to follow these laws and regulations. When an employer chooses to overlook important worker protections, they must be held accountable, regardless of whether their actions are malicious or unintentional.
How to Prepare for A Wage Theft Case in Minnesota
As soon as you suspect your employer is guilty of wage theft, it’s time to learn about your rights and the applicable laws. While turning to books and internet resources is a great place to start, we’d recommend speaking to an experienced legal professional about the specifics of your case so you understand exactly how to proceed.
While you are in the process of finding an attorney, there are several things you can do to help build a strong case. First, collect documentary evidence like your pay stubs and communication with your employer. It is especially important to retain documentation of the pay rate you were promised. It can help to ask straightforward questions of your employer regarding why your paycheck was lower than expected or why you did not receive it on time. When these conversations happen in writing, they can be used as solid evidence to prove intention.
You can also ask around to see if any of your coworkers have experienced similar issues. If the practices being used are widespread throughout the company, the evidence your coworkers provide may strengthen your case. Your attorney will want to hear about these grievances.
Before you pursue a case, you’ll need to know your damages so that you can ask for the proper amount of compensation in your claim. This means calculating any back pay that you may be owed by comparing your hours worked to your paychecks. Keep in mind that employers will change hours on your timecard so they match the amount you’re paid. It’s best to keep your own record of the hours you work while paying close attention to the pay that your employer has tried to withhold.
Working with Wage Theft Lawyers in MN
Employees who are victims of wage theft can make a report to the employer or file a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Some employees worry that they will be retaliated against for making the complaint. However, this is illegal and can be addressed with the assistance of a Minnesota wage theft attorney.
If you are not taken seriously when broaching the subject of wage theft with your employer, it is best to speak to a wage theft attorney. An attorney will advise you on how to proceed in a way that protects your rights and does not jeopardize your case. If coworkers have experienced similar treatment and would like to pursue legal action, it may be a good idea for them to speak to an attorney as well.
The process is different for everyone, but there are certain steps that must be followed to maximize your chances of a positive outcome. Your Minneapolis employment lawyer will help you compile evidence of your employer’s wrongdoing and go through the appropriate channels to receive compensation for your stolen wages.