Turley Law July 2017

Watching Your Wages So You Can Watch the Road

AUGUST 2017 Local 619.407.9902 Toll Free 888.855.8658

The Proof Is in the Paystub How to Catch Wage Violations

You might be surprised to learn the lengths employers go in order to avoid paying workers what they are owed. Things that seem like small infractions, maybe even accidental ones, are usually purposeful. And believe me, everything adds up. You can bet the companies that you think are cutting small corners are probably stealing a lot more of your wages than you probably realize. Some examples of how warehouse workers are cheated out of wages We represent a lot of warehouse workers. Let me paint a little picture that might be familiar to a lot of people. You arrive at work, where your employer has you go through security, change into your work clothes, walk across a warehouse the size of four Costco stores, and then clock in. After your shift, you clock out and repeat the same process in reverse. If you’ve been in this situation, I want you think about all the time you’ve spent at work without being paid. Even if it’s 20 minutes a day, that adds up to over 5,000 minutes per year — 5,000 minutes you should be paid for. The California Labor Code makes it explicitly clear that you should be paid for any time spent “under control of the employer.” Anything less than that is wage theft, plain and simple. Here is another way we see warehouse workers cheated out of wages. The company gives you a 10-minute rest break. But under California law, you are entitled to a “net” 10 minutes of rest time. If part of your 10-minute rest break is having to walk to the bathroom or to a “suitable resting facility” — then you haven’t received a legally compliant rest break. Under California law, you are entitled to be paid an hour’s pay for every noncompliant rest break. This can add up really fast. When this hour’s pay isn’t included on your paycheck stub, then you also have a paycheck stub violation. How to uncover wage theft for drivers, warehouse workers and all other workers When it comes to uncovering wage theft, I always say there are three ways I can tell when an employer is up to something fishy. The first is through conversation. When I talk to workers for 10 minutes or so, I can usually get a pretty good picture of how the

company is stealing their wages. The second is through examining time records/clock records. That is, records the company has of you clocking in to begin your shift, clocking out and back in for meal breaks, and clocking out to end your shift. The third, and sometimes the best evidence of all, is through taking a look at paystubs. Paystubs, or wage statements, can prove invaluable when it comes to demonstrating that an employer is siphoning wages out of your wallet. With paystub violations, there are two major categories: omission of required information and data manipulation. Certain details must be present on every paystub. Hourly rate, or piece rate for employees paid by production, must be disclosed. The same goes for time worked. If your employer isn’t willing to reveal this on your paystub, odds are they are hiding something. Data manipulation is another common tactic. If you are looking at your paycheck and it seems a little light, and it seems that you should have earned more money this pay period, then your employer is probably engaged in time shaving. They “shave” 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there. You would be amazed at how often this happens. There is intense pressure on supervisors to lower labor costs. Time shaving is how they pull this off. Only this is your time, and it is taking money off you and your family’s table. It is wage theft, no two ways about it. The best way to combat paystub violations is to monitor your time independently. Unfortunately, most people don’t start keeping track of their own time until they sense something is up. Your paystubs, though, can build a paper trail that’s hard for an employer to refute. If you are the victim of paystub manipulation, you may be entitled to wage statement penalties up to $4,000. Like I said earlier, it all adds up. Your employer certainly doesn’t take kindly to you cutting corners at work, and you should hold them to the same standard. Any money they withhold from your check is money taken out of your pocket. It hurts you, it hurts your family, and you don’t have to stand for it. - Bill Turley

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