10 sneaky ways employers steal from your paycheck

Teo Spengler

Wage theft is a big-time crime in which billions of dollars are taken out of working people's pockets every year. Rather than armed thugs or slick pickpockets committing the crime, it's employers who fail to pay the wages and benefits their employees are guaranteed by law.

In the 10 most populous states, 2.4 million workers lose $8 billion to the crime every year, according to a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). And wage theft is growing, said Robert Ottinger, an employment attorney at The Ottinger Firm, which has offices in San Francisco and New York.

"There are three reasons for this," Ottinger explained. "First, a lack of government resources to enforce the wage laws. Second, class actions were the primary way to enforce the law and the U.S. Supreme Court has made those harder to bring. Third, the advent of mandatory arbitration by employers now keeps aggrieved employees out of court."

Many people who are victims of wage theft aren't even aware that what is happening to them is illegal. Keep reading to see 10 of the ways that employers steal money from your paycheck, plus an expert's suggestions on what you can do about it.