The idea of workplace theft often provokes thoughts of employees stealing from their employer. But is it possible for employers to take from their employees? Even if employer theft can happen, what does it look like? Knowing how to spot these illegal activities is the first step in stopping them.

Wage theft of all kinds results in billions of dollars year vanishing from employee’s pockets. Between calculating total pay after taxes, withholding, and determining overtime pay, it can be hard for an employee to notice if their paycheck is missing money, notably if it has been short on cash the whole time. Here are some common forms of wage theft to make it easier to spot this activity:

Unpaid overtime

If an employee gets called into work unexpectedly or even willingly picks up an overtime shift, the employer may act to avoid paying their employee time-and-a-half. A typical trick to do this would be moving the overtime hours into the next pay period and keeping the employee from working full time during that period. This way, a person can work 50 hours one week and 30 hours the next, but their employer will mark it as 40 hours each week.

Lost pay

If an employee receives their checks in person, and one week doesn’t arrive, the employer must act swiftly to pay the employee. If an employer “forgets” to provide an employee with their payment, or stalls retrieving the missing payment, the employer might be committing wage theft.

Withheld wages

If an employee quits or gets fired, the employer may try to withhold their paycheck. This withholding is especially typical if an employer decides to justify this action due to some form of alleged property damage.

Skipped meals

Employees deserve meal breaks during their shifts. If an employer makes an employee work during their designated break time, this may constitute a form of wage theft.

Do not assume anything

Many employees believe that either their employer is not doing anything wrong, or that there is nothing an employee can do to stop their wage theft. Employment law attorneys can help their clients review their unique situation and determine if the theft occurred.

Do not leave money on the table by not talking to an attorney about protecting your income.