Properly compensating employees for the work they do is an essential responsibility for any employer in the U.S. There are numerous laws in place that dictate how workers should be compensated and if an employer is in violation of these laws, it can face some serious penalties.
Generally speaking, the penalties will be financial. If an employer failed to comply with overtime or minimum wage rules, for example, it can be accused of wage theft and be required to repay the unpaid money as well as steep fines for breaking the law. However, there are other penalties that can come with wage and hour violations.
One major consequence of failing to properly pay workers is the negative publicity that can arise. A company that is accused of shortchanging employees knowingly or not can easily be painted as "the bad guy" and face a backlash from clients and consumers. This can mean lost business and a reputation that is seriously damaged.
Another consequence of wage violations could include criminal penalties. While this isn't always the case, the fact is there are times when employers could face incarceration and a stained criminal record. Recently, for instance, Papa John's franchisees were targeted for not paying workers. They had to pay $500,000 to the affected workers. Earlier this year, an owner of nine Papa John's franchises was accused of wage theft and had to spend 60 days in jail.
Readers should understand that wage theft and other violations are taken very seriously by law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. If you believe your rights as an employee have been violated or if you are an employer accused of misconduct, it can be crucial to discuss your legal options and rights with an attorney.