What is wage theft?

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Under Minnesota law, wage theft occurs when an employer engages in certain actions that deprive an employee of his or her hard-earned wages. For example, wage theft occurs when an employer, with intent to defraud an employee:

    • fails to pay his or her wages, salary, gratuities, earnings, or commissions;
    • directly or indirectly causes any employee to give a receipt for wages for a greater amount than that actually paid to the employee for services rendered;
    • directly or indirectly demands or receives from any employee any rebate or refund from the wages owed the employee under contract of employment with the employer; or
    • makes or attempts to make it appear in any manner that the wages paid to any employee were greater than the amount actually paid to the employee.

The consequences for an employer who commits wage theft are significant. First, because the law recognizes wage theft as a crime, an employer who violates this law can be held criminally liable for breaking it. The severity of the resulting criminal sanctions will vary depending on how much wages are stolen. If the value is $500.00 or less, the sentence can be up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine. The jail time is longer and fines are higher if more is stolen.

Also, an employee who is a victim of wage theft has the right to sue their employer to recover their damages. Employers who are held liable for the unpaid wages must also pay the employee’s reasonable court costs, disbursements, witness fees, and attorney fees.

Minnesota’s wage theft law also protects employees who assert their rights under the law. The law specifically prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who assert these rights, who file a complaint with the Department of Labor and Industry, or who tell the employer of their intent to do so.

Employees have a right to be paid in full for the wages they have earned. If you believe you have been deprived of your earnings, please contact Tom Jacobson. As a Certified Labor and Employment Law Specialist, Tom is here to help you understand your rights and to guide you through the process if your rights have been violated.

Disclaimer: this article is for general information purposes only and is not to be used as legal advice.

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