Wage Theft: The Hana Hana Justice Project at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii


Wage theft
What is wage theft? Wage theft is when an employer does not pay
you what you are owed for your work. Here are 10 examples of wage theft:
Number 1: Paying less than the minimum wage. You have the right to be paid a minimum wage,
even if you are paid per day or by piece rate. As of January 1, 2017, the minimum wage in
Hawaii is $9.25 an hour, it used to be $8.50 an hour. For example, Ming is paid $2 for every lei
she makes. Ming is only able to make 4 lei every hour. Ming is paid $8 an hour. But the minimum wage in Hawaii is $9.25 an
hour. Ming is a victim of wage theft. Number 2: Avoiding payments of overtime. If you work over 40 hours a week, you must
be paid 1.5 times your hourly wage for every hour worked over 40. For example, Mario works in construction for
$14 an hour. Some weeks he works 45 hours. But his boss shifts Mario’s extra hours onto
the next week to avoid paying Mario $21 an hour for 5 hours of overtime work. Mario is a victim of wage theft. Number 3: Stealing tips. For example, Leilani works in a restaurant
as a waitress. For large parties the restaurant charges diners
a mandatory 20 percent service fee. But the restaurant pays Leilani half the fee
and keeps the rest. Leilani is a victim of wage theft. Number 4: Making you work “off the clock,”
forcing you to clock in after you started work, or forcing you to clock out and continue
working. For example, Elena works in housekeeping at
a hotel. Every Monday her boss makes the staff come
in for an hour long mandatory meeting. Elena isn’t allowed to clock in until after
the meeting. Elena is a victim of wage theft. Number 5: Misclassifying workers as independent
contractors. For example, Fetu works for a tour company. Fetu does not set his pay or his hours. His boss gives Fetu assignments and enforces
company rules. The company owns the car he drives. Fetu should be considered an employee but
the company classifies him as an independent contractor to avoid paying overtime and payroll
taxes. Fetu is a victim of wage theft. Number 6: Making illegal deductions from paychecks. Your employer cannot deduct or withhold your
wages or make you pay for fines, damage charges, cash shortages, or defective workmanship. Number 7: Not paying for all hours worked. Number 8: Not paying a worker at all. Number 9: Issuing a paycheck that bounces. Number 10: Failing to issue a final check. Wage theft is common in low wage work, such
as: restaurants and hotels, construction, home health care, manufacturing, retail, and
domestic work. Wage theft is an epidemic. About 26 percent of low wage workers are paid
less than the minimum wage. About 76 percent of low wage workers are not
paid the overtime rate. Low wage workers in three cities lost over
$56.4 million per week because of wage theft. Wage theft affects all of us. Families fall into poverty
Local economies are weakened Good employers cannot compete with those who
are cheating workers And payroll taxes for government programs
are lost. You have rights! You have the right to be paid the minimum
wage: $9.25 an hour. If you work over 40 hours a week, you have
the right to overtime pay: 1.5 times your hourly wage. If you were promised a higher pay rate, you
have the right to be paid your promised wage. You have the right to be paid 2 times a month
on regular pay days. You have the right to receive a pay stub that
shows your hours worked, rate of pay, total pay, pay period, deductions, and your employer’s
name. Your employer cannot retaliate, threaten,
or punish you for exercising your rights or filing a wage claim. Remember to keep good records of the hours
you work: the dates you work, time you start and the time you finish, and always keep your
pay stubs. If you think you have been a victim of wage
theft Call the Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i at 808-536-4302. You have a right to file a wage claim with
the Hawai’i Department of Labor or the U.S. Department of Labor for unpaid wages. Call Legal Aid at 808-536-4302.

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