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Michelle Cohen Levy
Michelle Cohen Levy

How can workers prove their employer has stolen their wages?

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2022 | Wage & Hour Laws |

Many businesses have strict policies intended to keep their workers from stealing from them. Companies will claim that workers who take too long in the bathroom have engaged in time theft by charging for their time while they attend to their own bodily needs instead of the company’s best interest.

Of course, that same strict attitude about timing and pay seemingly goes out the window when it comes to a worker’s right to their full wages. Many companies will engage in underhanded business tactics to illegally deprive their workers of a fair wage for their time worked. Wage theft deprives American employees of an estimated $15 billion each year.

Those employees can eventually take legal action against their employer for their denied or stolen wages. What kind of documentation will increase your chances of a successful wage claim against your employer?

Documentation of a policy demanding unpaid work

Companies often skirt around the obligation to pay their employees for time work by having informal practices not reflected in their employee handbooks or work contracts. An example would be a manager at a retail shop telling a worker that they have to straighten shelves when entering the store before clocking in or need to clock out before counting down their till and filling out paperwork after a shift as a cashier.

Routinely requiring that workers do certain work functions while clocked out is a common form of wage theft. Written communications from a manager confirming this kind of policy or even statements from co-workers can help prove this quiet and common form of wage theft. 

Keep a record of your time clock information

As more employers have shifted to digital timekeeping software, it has become harder to crack certain forms of wage theft, such as altering someone’s time clock records. You no longer have a handwritten, physical slip to compare to the pay you receive.

If your employer’s system does not provide a printed receipt when you clock in and out, you may want to take a moment to take a photograph with your phone every day when you enter and leave the store. The ability to validate the total number of hours and minutes worked will make it easier for you to prove that your employer has altered your payroll records to deny you overtime or just reduce the number of hours on your paycheck.

Worker testimony, written company policies, photographs and written records that you maintain yourself can all help you prove that a company has unfairly denied you compensation for the time that you have worked. Learning more about wage claims can help you demand the compensation you deserve.