Wage Theft In South Florida
When you accept a job, you assume that you’ll get paid fairly for your work. However, this is not always the case. Employers often engage in schemes to pay workers low wages. In some cases, employers may avoid paying workers altogether.
This is called wage theft, and just like any type of theft, it’s illegal. Wage theft occurs when a worker performs labor but does not receive the wages they are entitled to receive under the law. For example, there are minimum wage laws in place. In Florida, workers must be paid at least $11 per hour. When they are paid less than that, it is considered wage theft. When companies refuse to pay workers at all, it is wage theft. So is not paying overtime, not allowing workers to take breaks, and requiring employees to work off the clock. Some workers are even cheated of their tips.
Salaried workers are generally not affected. Instead, it’s commonly committed against hourly workers. Construction workers are affected at high rates, as are others who perform physical jobs, such as farm workers, home health care workers, child care workers, hotel workers, and restaurant workers. These jobs are demanding and often dangerous, yet workers are getting paid peanuts for their labor.
Wage theft is becoming more and more common in South Florida, where tourism and dining are very popular. These industries are also rife with theft. Sometimes employers will act ignorant, claiming that they had no idea of the laws that apply in their situation. However, this is not a defense. Then there are companies who think they are complying with the law, but they’re not.
Lawyers tend to be successful at winning wage theft cases in court. Some restaurants in South Florida have settled cases in the mid-six figures. In some cases, damages can be in the seven figures. And fighting your case in civil court is the most common route. Florida has no state agency that handles unpaid wages, so you either go to court or go to the county if you want to fight your case. A knowledgeable employment lawyer can help you understand if you are a victim of wage theft.
But even if you win a case, that doesn’t guarantee payment. Many workers are still dealing with nonpayment several years later. The problem is especially intensified for immigrants. They are often intimidated and threatened by employers who call immigration on them in an attempt to send them back to their home countries. Still, undocumented workers have rights in the United States and can still be victims of wage theft.
Seek Legal Help
Workers should get paid a fair wage. When they don’t, this is called wage theft and it’s a serious issue that affects employers and companies alike.
Not getting paid what you deserve? Fort Lauderdale business litigation lawyer Edward J. Jennings, P.A. can help resolve your business dispute and ensure you get the compensation you deserve. To schedule a consultation with our office, fill out the online form or call 954-764-4330.