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Is wage theft a felony?

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Minnesota passed a wage theft policy in 2019 to provide strengthened legal provisions to employees who experience wage theft. Under this policy, wage theft can be a felony if an employer intentionally steals their employees’ wages.

This wage theft law establishes the following penalties:

  • Felony charges, depending on the amount stolen
  • Up to 20 years of jail time
  • Fines up to $100,000

Aside from enforcing intensified sanctions, this law also imposes new recordkeeping requirements on employers. Initially, they must provide employees documents with information on how they will get paid, including their rate, mode of payment, personnel policies, salary status, pay periods and paid leave benefits.

They must also give employees written notices about pay-related changes or updates while maintaining a record of signed copies for compliance with regulations enforced by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Failure to comply can lead to thousands worth of fines and misdemeanor charges.

What is considered wage theft?

Wage theft can happen in many ways, making it tough to spot. It can be a crime whenever the employer unlawfully takes from an employee’s wages. These scenarios can be considered as theft:

  • Giving a salary below the minimum wage
  • Failing to pay for overtime
  • Forcing employees to work outside their shift
  • Making unauthorized wage deductions
  • Misclassifying employees as independent contractors
  • Not giving former employees their final pay
  • Taking tips from workers

The Attorney General’s wage theft unit deals with these incidents and reviews any violations after receiving a complaint.

Who will they charge?

Many people within a firm or organization can represent the employer, making it difficult to trace who is at fault. Even so, authorities will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the violation to determine who to charge.