When you take a job, you expect to be paid, right? However, across the United States, employers from every industry, skill level, experience level, and demographic are getting their rightful wages withheld from them. In some cases, the missing wages are an accident on the employer’s part – maybe payroll or benefits are miscalculated, or some other error is made. But in many situations, employers intentionally steal from their employees. This happens in a number of ways – ranging from denying FMLA requests to requiring an employee to work off the clock for certain tasks.
Employers owe American workers billions of dollars in unpaid wages each year, as much as $50 billion in 2016, according to estimates from the Economic Policy Institute.
While this problem affects all kinds of workers, the story is worse for immigrant workers. According to Houston Public Media, immigrants face wage theft at almost twice the rate of citizens. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that employers fail to pay their workers some $50 billion each year.
Here are 4 real-life stories of employees who had their wages illegally withheld from them. Unfortunately, in many cases, employees don’t know how to claim their missing wages, don’t make a wage claim soon enough, or don’t get help from an employment law attorney. In these cases, often victims never see the money they are owed.
- Jin Ming Cao worked at a popular Chinese restaurant in Manhattan. After realizing that his employer was stealing from them, Cao joined with some co-workers to sue their employer. Their charges included failure to pay minimum wage and overtime, according to NBC News. However, the day before the trial, the restaurant closed and the manager disappeared. A federal judge ultimately sided with the waiters and take-out delivery workers, awarding 24 plaintiffs a total of around $1.5 million in damages. Cao himself is owed more than $140,000.
- According to the L.A. Times, Jose Luis Cazares and Marina Torres cleaned at a Regal Cinemas in Los Angeles for more than six years, working 11-hour night shifts seven days a week up until 2011. Despite the long hours, the couple reported that they always got checks from Regal’s janitorial subcontractor for the same amount: $700, twice a month — a sum well below the minimum wage, with no overtime wages included. Often the checks bounced or came late. Cazares and Torres had $83,000 in back pay owed to them.
- Alfonso de la Paz is a construction worker in Illinois who was robbed of $3,000 from his employer who refused to pay even after two notices from the state Department of Labor, according to Politico.
- According to a contract worker in New Orleans named Jose Cabrera, “I worked with five guys for three or four days on this house,” he says. “We were supposed to get $120 a day. The contractor kept telling us, ‘Come back tomorrow for your money.’ We waited and waited. Finally we said, ‘We’re calling the cops.’ He puts a gun to my neck, says, ‘You want me to call the police?’ So he called the cops—who were his friends. They warned us we were trespassing and told us to go home. This happens a lot…Out of 100 jobs, I’d say we get underpaid or unpaid on 25 of them,” he told TakePart.
Wage theft is a regular occurrence across the country and right here in Louisiana. And never assume you’re safe from wage theft because of your job title, industry, or employer. Wage theft happens regularly across small and large companies, and among workers with a range of job titles.
Remember that wage theft can happen in any industry or with any kind of worker. If you are missing wages, you have the right to fight back!
The employment law team at Miller, Hampton & Hilgendorf can help you file a wage claim and get what you’re owed. The attorneys at Miller, Hampton & Hilgendorf have in-depth experience with all the nuances of Louisiana wage and employment law and can help navigate your case with clarity. We care about you and your family and your right to earn the wages you’ve worked hard for.
In many real-life stories of wage theft, the victims have a hard time getting their money back because they either don’t fully understand their case, don’t realize just how much their employer is stealing from them, don’t have adequate legal representation, or they wait too long to start the wage claim process. Don’t let this happen to you. Get your money back! Start your wage claim case in Baton Rouge today! Call 225-343-2205 or message us online.
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Baton Rouge, LA 70806