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Los Angeles Law Blog

By John Kristensen of Kristensen, LLP posted in Employment Law -- Employee on Friday, July 19, 2019.
Common Methods of Wage Theft

When many of us think of theft or thieves, we often picture someone dressed in dark colors, robbing a store or home, and taking belongings that are not theirs. While that is certainly theft, there are other more insidious forms of thievery as well, and not always where you expect to find it. Regrettably, too many people have been victims of wage theft at the hands of their employers – although it’s not what many would expect, it’s a predatory and hateful crime to commit against those you have power over, so it’s important to be aware of how you or a loved one may be taken advantage of so you can take the proper legal channels and receive what was rightfully earned.


This is one of the most common places employees are duped out of wages they’ve rightfully earned. Employees are not volunteers, and your labor and skills are not provided to your employer without compensation. There are classifications in place to guide who receives overtime pay and when, but the simple version is that any employee who is classified as ‘nonexempt’ is eligible for overtime pay when they work more than eight hours in a given day or 40 hours in a given week. If you are working more than these hours and not receiving additional compensation, we are happy to help you determine if you should be eligible for overtime pay.

Employee misclassifications

This relates back to overtime, as unfortunately too many employees are wrongly classified as ‘exempt’ in order to avoid paying additional wages. The reality is a classification of ‘exempt’ or ‘nonexempt’ is not up to an employer’s discretion – there are unambiguous, legal guidelines that determine which category a position should fall into. If your position is being intentionally or unintentionally misclassified, then you are almost certainly not being paid the wages you have rightfully earned.

Minimum wage violations

When it comes to determining compensation, minimum wage is a mandatory legal requirement that is set both by the federal government, as well as state governments. When it comes to your level of compensation, it’s imperative that all legal standards are adhered to, and no deductions are made that retroactively reduce wages below that standard. If your hourly rate, or total income after deductions, comes out to be below minimum wage, your employer is violating the law and you are entitled to the rest of your pay.

“Off the clock” work

There is no such thing. If you are off the clock, your professional duties should wait until you are on the clock, or you should be compensated for your time and efforts if the work cannot wait. Some employers may make tasks sound like requisite training you are personally responsible for completing, or otherwise twisting the nature of the work to seem like they do not need to compensate you for doing. If you believe you may have been misled in a similar nature at your place of work, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our offices.

Wage theft is a real form of crime that affects real people – people who are trying to do honest work to make a living – at the hands of employers who unconscionably and illegally take advantage of that fact. If you believe you or someone you love is not receiving the compensation they have earned and are legally entitled to receiving, we hope you contact us so we can begin to right that wrong immediately.