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Wage theft: Is your employer paying you all your wages?

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Did your employer ever pay you less than you were owed? It is against the law in California for your employer to deny you fair wages.

In 2011, California passed the Wage Theft Protection Act, but how does it apply to you?

How are you protected by this law?

Under this law, you are entitled to receive information about your wages at the time you are hired. This includes your rate of pay, your payday, the name of your employer, their address and telephone number and other information as required by law.

Your employer is required to provide you with a clear, written notice seven calendar days before they make any changes to those wages. If they fail to notify you of these changes, they could suffer legal consequences. They cannot apply new changes to wages you are already due. Also, if employees are paid differently based on the kinds of projects or tasks they complete, the employer must clarify this on their notice.

They can provide this information using the template provided by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. However, they can modify it as needed.

What are examples of wage theft?

The Department of Industrial Relations has provided a few examples of how employers typically try to deny wages to their employees. These include but are not limited to:

  • Paying less than minimum wage
  • Denying breaks or denying paid sick leave
  • Refusing to reimburse business expenses
  • Deducting unauthorized expenses from paychecks
  • Not receiving correct wages on time
  • Denying you access to payroll records

These types of wage theft protections only apply to employees, not necessarily contract workers. It also excludes unionized workers.

If your employer attempts to make changes to your wages without your knowledge, they could be committing wage theft. If you need help recovering stolen wages, learn about your legal options.

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