Wage theft occurs when an employer underpays employees for hours that they worked. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to pay employees for every hour that they work, they are required to pay at least the federally set minimum wage per every hour worked, and must pay at least time and a half for overtime hours. If an employer does not pay a nonexempt employee for the hours that he or she worked, at the required minimum rate, then the employer is in violation of the law.
According to a law suit filed against Domino’s, the well-known pizza chain was underpaying employees on a regular basis. Domino’s was using a software program for payroll that is called Pulse. According to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the Pule program “systematically under calculates workers’ wages.”
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What is a wage theft lawsuit?
Wage theft lawsuits address any case where an employer pays their employees less than minimum wage, fails to pay overtime for hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek, or does not count all of the hours worked by an employee when they calculate wages. Wage theft could also occur if the employer or management improperly takes tips from employees who are paid gratuities.
Wage theft lawsuits are on the rise
There has been an increase in wage theft lawsuits in recent years. Many corporations have been accused of using the franchise business model to protect themselves from being sued for wage theft when franchises fill positions with low wage workers and fail to pay those minimum wage earners as much as they are required to under the law.
Since 2010, over one billion dollars in unpaid wages have been recovered from corporations.
Is there anything special about the Domino’s case compared to the many other wage theft cases?
The Domino’s case has received a great deal of attention because of the Attorney General’s decision to go after the Domino’s corporate franchiser, rather than an individual franchises. While cases have been settled against many companies, and even against Domino’s locations in the past, taking on the corporate franchiser is more challenging.
In order to hold the corporation liable, the Attorney General must show that Domino’s was aware of the issues with the software and forced the franchises to use the program anyway. It seems that the franchise locations were required to use the software, and that the majority of Domino’s locations had reported instances of wages below the set minimum wage. The lawsuit alleges that Domino’s had knowledge about the flaws in the software system dating to as far back as 2007.
How much money is at stake in the Domino’s case?
The lawsuit claims over $500,000 dollars in lost wages. There have been bigger wage theft cases against other employers, but the bigger issue in the Domino’s case is the attempt to show that the corporation is responsible, and not just the franchises. The result of finding the corporation responsible could impact the practicality franchise structure. By holding the corporation responsible, the suit would show that corporate entities cannot use franchises to buffer themselves from liability.
The practice of wage theft is concerning for many, since it impacts the already low wages of many hourly workers.
What to do if your employer is engaging in wage theft
Wage theft is illegal. If your employer is not compensating you for all of the work you do, or is underpaying you, you can report this violation to the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor.
You may also wish to contact an attorney to discuss whether you should consider filing a lawsuit against your employer. Wage theft cases are often filed as class action lawsuits. This is because employers’ practices of underpaying employees are often systematic and not focused on one individual. Additionally, class action lawsuits can make filing a suit against a corporation for missing or stolen wages financially feasible. Often the total amount of money at stake for one employee might not be enough to make a lawsuit practical, but by joining together, a class of employees can spread the cost of the suit among a larger group of similarly aggrieved persons.
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At Stern Law, PLLC, we have compassionate and caring attorneys ready to work with you to find the best solution to your employment law related legal issues. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 for a free consolation with an experienced employment attorney.