Wage theft is often misunderstood

When people in Tennessee apply for jobs, it is typically because they expect those jobs to help them pay for the things they need, such as rent, clothing and transportation. Certain jobs carry legal minimum wages, and others carry contractually agreed upon pay. Wage and hour disputes arise when workers believe their employers have not paid the amount of money owed for the work they have done. Wage theft may take many forms and is not always easy to identify.

Many think an employer commits wage theft by not paying an employee overtime. However, the employer may also neglect to give a worker a final check, and sometimes, a worker is not paid for the entire time he or she worked. While hourly employees may be more susceptible to wage theft, such thievery occurs in every industry. Those most vulnerable to having an employer take advantage of them are workers in restaurants, home health care, retail and agriculture.

An employer who unfairly withholds a worker's wages violates the Fair Labor Standards Act, a federal law requiring minimum pay and overtime pay when a worker goes beyond 40 hours in a week. However, depending on the nature of the work, the employer may be violating laws by failing to pay the prevailing wages to certain contract workers. There may also be violations of various tax laws when a worker improperly classifies an employee as a contractor to avoid paying federal taxes.

A worker deserves a fair wage for a fair day's work. The laws in Tennessee and in every state across the nation protect workers from wage theft in its various forms. Those who believe their employers are stealing their wages would be wise to consult an attorney for advice on how to claim what is rightfully theirs.

Source: govdocs.com, "5 Myths About Wage Theft", Kelsey Basten, Accessed on Nov. 25, 2017

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