Can I Sue if My Employer Paid Me “Under the Table”?

Getting fair payment for work is a basic employment right. As such, not receiving any form of payment for work is a violation of California labor laws and has legal consequences. Unfortunately, some employers avoid the legal issues of fair payments by not reporting their employees’ wages, paying them under the table. While it may seem a relief to have cash in your hand after a day’s work, it often means employers are cheating employees as well as the government.

Such “under the table” payments may not seem like a problem since you’re receiving payment for your work. However, this may signal of other underlying issues. If your employment status is off the books, like one in every six other California workers, then you have a legal right to sue your employer.

What Problems Can Happen to Unaccounted for Workers?

Many people think of their jobs as a way to earn income and support themselves, so receiving pay – no matter the form – may be the priority. While a cash payment may seem satisfactory, it may be a sign that you’re not properly listed an employee at your job, which can have other consequences.

Some of the biggest concerns are in your rights as an employee. The fact that you’re not on the books at your place of employment may mean that you don’t receive the same consideration of labor laws while on the job. There can also be complications in receiving workers compensation or collecting unemployment.

Because under the table employees don’t receive paystubs, it can be easy for an employer to give workers inappropriate pay for their work. An employer may be able to claim that you didn’t work the amount of hours that you did or that you didn’t qualify for overtime – and without a pay stub, you may not be able to provide evidence to the contrary. Your earnings also don’t have taxes taken out of them, which can cause further difficulties when you file your annual taxes.

Why Do Employers Pay in Cash?

Many times, employers pay in cash because they do not want to be responsible for other expenses, like having an appropriate amount of workers compensation. And because it’s easy to not have to account for all paid hours, and employer may intentionally pay workers under the table so that it’s easy to hold back on paying appropriate wages. Similarly, an employer can also classify a worker as an independent contractor rather than an employee, denying workers their pay and benefits.

Suing for Labor Law Violations

Unfortunately, these problems are prevalent in California. Construction workers are especially at risk, off the books workers earning little over half of what full time and accounted for employees do. These and other such actions, such as not providing appropriate workers compensation, misclassifying employees, and not paying appropriate rates for overtime, are all state labor law violations.

California law has strict regulations on who an employer can consider as an independent contractor, which can create a difficult legal situation for an employer. Likewise, even if you don’t receive payments as cash, it is still a violation of law for employers to not provide paystubs to ensure fair wages. In any of these situations, you have a right to pursue appropriate compensation.

California labor laws are in place to ensure that all workers receive fair treatment and pay for their work – and employers not abiding by these laws can have severe legal consequences. If you have received payment in cash or experienced another labor law violation, then you should seek legal help.

With a skilled employment attorney on your side, you can better understand your rights as a worker. And if you’re eligible for compensation, a lawyer can help you file a claim and fight for rightful compensation in court.