In this hectic world where businesses are continually trying to chase profits, there are some unscrupulous ways they go about getting the same amount of work out of employees after their hours have been cut. Often, it is impossible to complete the same amount of work in a reduced time frame. The work may be poorly done or not completed at all because insufficient time is given to complete the work satisfactorily. If you are an hourly worker, your employer has the right to do this, however if it is done incorrectly this could be a form of wage theft. Billions of dollars of wage theft occur annually across the country and there are many successful lawsuits filed against unscrupulous employers.
When Cutting Hours Becomes Wage Theft
If the employer suddenly decides to change its hourly employees’ schedules by reducing the number of hours of work, but demanding the same amount of work is done in less time, this could constitute wage theft. This basically means the employee is struggling to get the required work done in less time. However, it is not always easy to prove that it is deliberate wage theft, as it will partly depend on whether the employee had more than enough time to complete the work when working more hours.
What to Do If You Think Your Employer is Responsible For Wage Theft
First of all, you should document all the hours you have worked and what responsibilities you were expected to take on in those hours. You should do this for your old schedule as well as the new schedule of reduced hours. You should also keep all your pay stubs so that you can demonstrate that you have been told to work fewer hours with an increased work load but you have not received an increase in your hourly pay to compensate for this change in work circumstances.
Show Evidence of Your Work That is Wage Theft
You should compile evidence comparing your workload with your original hours and your reduced hours. This could include co-workers reports showing you are more under pressure and suffering stress in your new hourly schedule and you are struggling to meet deadlines. You can take photos showing how you are tackling your work load throughout the day both during your original hours and your reduced hours. Keep any written evidence of something employers might have said about hours such as telling you that you are expected to get through the same work load in reduced hours. If this doesn’t look that it is easy or safe to do this you may be entitled to file a complaint to the Department of Labor in your state.
This agency explores violations of the Wage and Hour Law, which is enforced by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). If the Labor Commissioner thinks you are subject to wage theft it will contact your employer and ask for an explanation. If this does little to address the wage theft problem the Labor Commissioner may bring you and your employer together for mediation talks. If you do not have an employment lawyer at this stage it is time to contact one so s/he can work o your behalf with mediation.
Speak With an Attorney
Mediation may fail, but the Labor Commissioner believes you are a victim of wage theft. Your attorney may find that you have good evidence to prove that the reduced hours dictated by your employer with the same work load is wage theft. If so, you may be able to file a lawsuit so you can get the wage theft repaid. Struggles with employers over hours and wages can cause stress ,so you may be able to include a calculation for pain and suffering in your lawsuit.
You can expect to get your attorney fees paid as well. In extreme circumstances you may be able to include punitive damages in your lawsuit. This is when your employer deliberately reduced your hours so it could pay less for the same amount of work. What is most important with any lawsuit is ensuring you file the lawsuit with the time limit determined by your state. This is called the statute of limitations and the time limit varies between states.