Wage theft is a serious issue that affects millions of New Yorkers every year. If you suspect your employer is illegally withholding wages from you, your paycheck and pay stub are good places to start.
What to look for
New York laws require employers to provide pay stubs on each payday.
Pay stubs can tell you a lot more than just how much money you are able to deposit at the bank. They also show withholdings, taxes, pay rate, and the number of hours you have worked. Looking over this information can help you identify violations.
For instance, pay stubs could reveal that your employer:
- is not accurately tracking the number of hours you worked;
- is withholding wages for unauthorized reasons;
- is failing to pay the federal or state minimum wage;
- is failing to pay overtime wages at a rate of one-and-a-half times the regular hourly rate of pay;
- is not reimbursing you for purchases you made on their behalf; or
- is not paying you all the money you earned in a pay period.
If you notice these or other issues on your pay stubs, your employer could be violating federal and/or state laws and stealing your earned wages.
It is important to note that you will want to keep your own records in order to compare them with the information reflected on your pay stubs. More specifically, you should keep track of:
- your work hours;
- the length and frequency of any breaks;
- any time worked off the clock;
- the amount of time taken off work for sick leave or vacation;
- any missing or late payments owed to you; and
- any tips earned.
Having your own records can be vital in proving that your paychecks are inaccurate.
Protecting your wages
When people think of wage theft, they often imagine overt measures, such as an employer taking money from their employee’s tip jar. While such blatant acts can indeed be illegal, wage theft is often more subtle.
As a result, wage theft can continue for quite some time without an employee recognizing that their employer may be stealing from them. These actions add up, and over time, an employee could lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars in wages. If you notice that your paychecks are inaccurate or suspicious, seeking legal guidance from experienced employment attorneys may be crucial in protecting your legal rights.