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Wage theft is a massive problem in the United States. In 2012, the Economic Policy Institute noted that reported cases of wage theft far outpaced other forms of theft. Using cities like New York and Los Angeles as examples, the Institute estimated that “wage theft is costing workers more than $50 billion a year.”
One form of wage theft is overtime violations. In short, this is when an employer fails to pay an employee overtime wages after they’ve worked more than their legally allotted hours in a week, generally around 40 or 60 hours depending on the job.
Now, a video satirizing this common trend of overtime violations has gone viral, with many jumping into the comment section to tell their stories of wage theft.
In a TikTok posted by user @shitty.jobs.podcast, he wears a Best Buy jacket (it is unclear whether he actually works there) as he carries out a sketch in which a manager asks an employee to stay late. The “employee” complies while also saying they are reaching their 60 hours, allowing them to make overtime pay.
Later in the sketch, when the boss sees their hours for the week they panic, chiding the employee for working overtime and threatening to write him up for putting in the hours the boss asked him to put in.
“Tell me what it’s like to work in America without telling me what it’s like to work in America,” a woman asks in a stitched video at the beginning of the TikTok.
The TikTok currently has over 299,000 views.
@shitty.jobs.podcast #stitch with @fraannzzy ♬ original sound – Shitty Jobs Podcast
In the comments sections, users shared similar stories about their workplaces.
“I got fired bc they owed me 2k in back pay for my overtime and a lawyer said it wasnt worth fighting for bc id lose it all to legal fees,” recalled a user.
“My old job tried this one. We don’t want to pay overtime but make sure you finish this mountain of work before you leave,” alleged a second. “Oh, we fired two of your coworkers this morning. We’re not replacing them. Just work harder.”
“Happened to me,” stated a third. “They didn’t pay overtime, they removed my extra hours and put it into my next pay period and cut my hours so it could all balance out.”
Some users advised getting any request to perform overtime work in writing in order to avoid wage theft.
“ALWAYS get these in writing. no matter how they act, or beg, or say it’s okay,” suggested a commenter. “ALWAYS. ASK. IN. WRITING.”
“If it’s not in writing and signed, don’t do it. It’s a trap,” said another.
“Always ask ‘are you authorizing overtime,’” insisted a further user. “If they say no keep walking towards the door.”
Still, many users complained about the lack of legal recourse for minor wage violations.
As the creator of the video wrote in comments, “By the time you sue and pay a lawyer, you’re in the hole.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to the creator via email.
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