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Is Wage Theft a Crime in Texas?


Laws relating to businesses are complicated, and there are people whose entire jobs consist of figuring out which laws certain businesses are following and which ones they are violating.  Some companies even have their own compliance departments to keep up with current regulations and ensure that the company is not liable for penalties.  In most cases, violations of laws by businesses only result in financial penalties or, in some cases, revocation of business licenses.  Consider, for example, that when a doctor gets criminal charges for medical malpractice, but patients file claims about medical errors, and receive insurance payouts for them, all the time.  If you could get criminal charges for every mistake on a business tax return and every safety hazard in a place of employment, we would all be behind bars.  In some cases, though, employers can get criminal penalties for unfair treatment of workers, including failure to pay them for their work.  Wage theft is subject to criminal penalties in Texas, so if an employee is accusing you of wage theft, contact a Dallas white collar crimes lawyer.

What Is Wage Theft?

Most disputes over pay fall under the category of employment law and result, at most, in lawsuits in civil court.  If an employee is working on an at-will basis or under an employment contract, and the employer does not pay what they promised, the employee should first contact the Texas Workforce Commission.  This applies to disputes over overtime pay and minimum wage, among other disputes.  In general, withholding payment from workers, whether they are classified as employees or independent contractors, is known as wage theft.

In 2011, Texas enacted a law that allows prosecutors to bring criminal charges against employers accused of wage theft.  The law was passed in response to widespread withholding of payment from workers in the construction industry.

You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer If You Are Being Investigated for Wage Theft

If an employee accuses you of wage theft, it does not automatically mean that you will get charged with a crime.  It does, however, mean that there will be an investigation into your workplace, especially if an employee has filed a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission.  This close scrutiny of your business practices could lead to investigators uncovering evidence that could lead to you being charged with crimes, such as payroll fraud or tax fraud.  In the worst-case scenario, an employer who is found to have forced workers to work without pay, especially if the employer did so through intimidation, the employer could be charged with human trafficking.

Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC About Your Wage Theft Case

If you are worried about being charged with a crime in connection to your business activities, the best time to hire a lawyer is before a police officer reads you the Miranda warnings.  A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of a financial crime such as wage theft. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC in Dallas, Texas to discuss your case.

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