Over the last few weeks, I’ve been seeing more tweets from human resources types and mainstream reporters using the phrase “wage theft”.  Two recent examples? William Tincup (who runs the popular online DriveThruHR show that I appeared on a while ago) recently tweeted:

And The New York Times labor reporter, Steven Greenhouse yesterday tweeted:

Yes, even The New York Times Editorial Board is beginning to use the term with surprising carelessness suggesting “law enforcement officials” (a term typically reserved for police officers, not Department of Labor officials) routinely use it.

It’s time for employers to beware this phrase and fight its usage because, in my view, it’s really an attempt to turn something often unintentional, into something nefarious and intentional.

Or as Mandy Patinkin’s character in The Princess Bride said: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

What DO I mean? Well, think of the word, “theft” and most of us think of the intentional taking of something that belongs to someone else. Like your jewelry, or your iPhone. Even your company’s trade secrets.


Continue Reading

Yesterday, I discussed the employment contract portion of a new Appellate Court case, Ziotas v. The Reardon Law Firm (download here). 

Today, I’ll discuss the second part of the court’s decision on whether the associate’s bonus could be said to be "wages". Why is this important? Because under state law (Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-72)

Connecticut’s wage payment statutes, with the definition of wages found at Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-71a(3), certainly have left courts room to interpret the statute. After all, the definition of wages is merely: 

compensation for labor or services rendered by an employee, whether the amount is determined on a time, task, piece, commission or other

The Connecticut Supreme Court today ruled (in a decision that will be "officially released" on June 24, 2008) that an agreement between an employer and his employees to defer an employee’s past wages until the employer receives revenue sufficient to pay those wages, is contrary to public policy , therefore, an invalid defense in a