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Wage theft hurts workers, even when it is 'inadvertent'

If you are not being compensated properly for the work you do, then you could have a wage theft claim. These claims stem from wage violations like unpaid overtime or failure to pay minimum wage.

However, while it may seem quite obvious that an employer should be held accountable for wage theft and the damages resulting from these violations, these cases can turn out to be more contentious than people think. One reason for this is that employers may claim it was just an innocent mistake that can be fixed with paying the money. That is the claim fast food giant Carl's Jr. is making after if shortchanged 37 employees in another state.

According to reports, an investigation revealed that the affected workers were underpaid up to $0.50 less per hour for six months after an increase to the minimum wage.

Carl's Jr. reportedly paid the unpaid wages, but the city is demanding it do more to compensate the victims for the wage theft. It is requesting that Carl's Jr. pay nearly $1.5 million in penalties and fines for the violation, calling it a "systemic failure."

Not surprisingly, Carl's Jr. called this demand excessive, saying the wage theft was unintentional and the workers were ultimately paid the amount owed. Whether the company will be responsible for paying the amount demanded or a smaller amount remains to be seen.

There are a couple important lessons that New York employees can take away from this situation. First, it is a reminder that wage theft -- even on a relatively small scale -- can have an enormous impact on the lives of the workers who are not being paid fairly. And it doesn't matter how seemingly insignificant the amount withheld is; wage theft is wage theft, and it is a violation of employee rights.

Second, it serves as a good reminder that employers and employees often have a very different idea of the impact that wage theft has on individuals. This can make it very difficult to get a fair resolution without a fight. 

In order to level the playing field and fight for the compensation and wages you deserve, it would be wise to consult an attorney if you are the victim of wage theft. 

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