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How employers get away with cheating employees out of their due

Could your employer be quietly shortchanging you? Wage and benefit theft is a common problem in many industries (to the tune of about $3 billion per year). Whether you’re working for minimum wage or you’ve got your own office, there are several different ways your employer could be cheating you:

Misclassification

You may be misclassified as an intern when you’re really being treated like an unskilled employee who owes the company free labor. Or maybe your employer has you classified as an independent contractor (even though you aren’t). Either way, you could be missing out on wages, bonuses, overtime and benefits that are your legal right.

You should also be wary if your employer suddenly promotes you to management without a corresponding increase in your job duties and salary. Your employer may just be using a loophole regarding managers to escape paying overtime.

Time scams

Some employers manage to weaponize the clock against their employees. They may have employees clock out at the end of the day and then “close up” while off the clock. Or, they may tell employees to take a “working” (and unpaid) lunch.

Another way that employers will skirt the rules is by shifting hours around to avoid overtime. If, for example, you work 50 hours in a week, your employer might shift 10 of those hours over to another week’s payroll. On paper, it’ll look like you were paid correctly.

Even time clocks can be an issue. Rounding and automatic break deductions used by electronic systems can shorten your countable work hours by up to 44 minutes per day — which really adds up.

Benefit denials

What’s the good of having sick leave or vacation leave if you aren’t allowed to take it? If your employer refuses to allow you to take the leave you’ve compiled, that’s actually a form of wage and benefit theft.

Similarly, some employers won’t even take pity on their injured employees. If an employer pressures you to forget about filing a workers’ compensation claim, that’s illegal.

If you suspect you’re the victim of wage theft, find out more about what you can do to assert your rights.