The holiday season is busy and stressful for many workers, especially hourly workers in the retail, food service, and delivery sectors. During this busy time, employers are less likely to pay workers for all hours worked or to pay overtime rates. It is important for workers to understand common practices that result in unpaid wages and incorrect hourly rates, also referred to as wage theft.
What to look out for
According to the US Department of Labor, common employment law violations during the holiday season include:
- Misclassifying employees as independent contractors to evade liability under employment laws
- Failing to pay salespeople and cashiers for time spent prepping or closing out registers
- Requiring stock room and warehouse workers to work through breaks without pay
- Requiring workers to clean or perform closing duties after they have clocked out
- Failing to pay promised holiday rates or overtime rates
Who is at risk
Temporary holiday and seasonal workers are particularly vulnerable to wage theft. Employers count on these temporary workers to be unfamiliar with their employment rights and too busy to keep careful track of hours worked. Many temporary or seasonal workers are hired through subcontracted companies or temporary staffing firms, making it even more difficult to track down unpaid wages after the holiday rush is over.
What to do
If you think that your employer isn’t paying you proper wages for all hours worked, it is important to keep records of your pay and hours. Make sure to keep any records of agreed upon pay rates, paystubs, and actual hours worked. It is also a good idea to keep records of any communication with your employer, manager, or supervisor regarding your schedule, hours worked, and pay rates. Pay close attention to any differences between promised overtime or holiday pay and the amount you are actually paid.
The US Department of Labor has a free smartphone app to help workers track their hours.
You can learn more about your workplace rights in North Carolina by calling the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Bureau at 1-800-625-2267 (1-800-NC-LABOR). You can also file a Wage Complaint with the Wage and Hour Bureau; more information is available on the NCDOL website.
If you would like to discuss possible unpaid wages, call us at 704-376-1600.