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What is wage theft?

| Jan 7, 2021 | employment law |

You have the right to expect payment according to the law for all hours that you work. Your employer may try to underpay you or not pay you correctly, and according to the California Labor Commissioner, this is wage theft.

Wage theft can occur in many ways, but it is always against the law. In many cases, it is something your employer will do intentionally, and it does not always involve incorrectly paying you.

Type of wage theft

Wage theft most often will involve an employer not paying you properly for overtime or paying you a wage that is illegal, such as wages under minimum wage. However, it can also involve not giving you breaks, taking your tips or making you work without clocking in.


If you feel you have been a victim of wage theft, you have the right to seek help. The labor laws in California apply to every worker regardless of where you work, your immigration status or other details. Everyone has the rights entitled under the law.

You can file a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. You can report for yourself or for others. You do not even have to be an employee of a company to make a report as long as you are a witness to wage theft.

You may also need to file other claims. For example, if an employer retaliates due to a report of wage theft, you will need to file a retaliation complaint. If the employer is working on a public works project, then you will also need to file a complaint about that.