Wage theft is the illegal withholding of wages or the denial of benefits that are rightfully owed to an employee. Wage theft is common in the United States. It can be achieved through various means: overtime, minimum wage violations, employee misclassification, illegal deductions in pay, working off the clock, not being paid at all.
These violations are alarmingly common in the salon. Have you had your wages stolen?
Answer these questions:
- Have you ever had the price of product deducted from your pay?
- Have you ever had pay deducted from your paycheck as punishment (for tardiness or service re-dos)?
- Have you ever been classified as an “independent contractor” but were forced to work the owner’s schedule, follow their service protocols, adhere to their dress code, and follow the guidelines set forth in their “employee manual?”
- Has the salon owner ever refused to pay you for services you’ve performed?
- Does your salon owner provide you with a detailed pay stub each pay period, outlining your service totals and your rate of pay for that period?
If so, you may have had your wages stolen.
Theft is theft.
Plain and simple. An employer who takes something that rightfully belonged to you has stolen from you. No weak justifications will change that fact. This post is here to teach you how you can prevent being a victim, and what you can do if you’ve already been a victim of wage theft. I am also going to demand that you actually follow through with enforcing the laws that protect your rights.
So how do you avoid becoming a victim of wage theft? Simple. Take responsibility for your pay.
- Track your income. Write down the totals for all of your service and product sales every day. You can easily type it into your phone. When payday rolls around, cross-check the amount with your own figures. (The Salon Employee Suitcase makes this process super easy.)
- Demand detailed wage statements from your owner. Often theft of wages is combined with failure to document what was paid by giving the employee an earnings statement which specifies the hours worked, the services performed, the rate of pay, and total amount of pay for the period. If your employer uses electronic booking, odds are pretty good that the system does all of that for them. Have your employer print out the statement. You want to see each service you performed, what the client paid, what the client tipped, what products you sold, and your rate of pay for both retail and services. You want to see how much went to FICA (that bastard). Every penny needs to be accounted for.
- Do not accept cash or personal check payments. Is your employer running a business? Then tell them to get their act together and do payroll like a grown up. You never accept payment in cash. Ever. The same applies to personal checks. You want a payroll check with a detailed pay stub. Nothing else will do.
- If you have been stolen from, hold the thief accountable. Would you let someone reach into your purse and pull out $20 or $50 and walk away with it? (If the answer to that is ‘yes,’ then you are beyond any help I can provide.) If you wouldn’t let someone take your cash, then why the hell would you let your boss steal your wages? If your owner has committed wage theft, TAKE ACTION. Click here to learn more about the process for filing a wage theft complaint.
Laws only work when you use them. They are there to protect you, but if you don’t take action, you will forever be a victim. Consult with a qualified employment law attorney or seek guidance from state or federal authorities.
employers who steal from their employees do not deserve to have employees.
Luckily, there is a huge movement in each state right now to stop wage theft. Laws are being passed that increase the penalties for committing this crime against American workers. If you’d like to get involved, you can do so at WageTheft.org.
Have you had your pay stolen by an opportunistic employer? Tell us in the comments!