Having worked hard, you deserve to receive compensation for the work done, even if you were paid cash under the table. That being said, there are certain complications that occur when it comes to paying off the books. Some of our clients have experienced being paid under the table and have been confronted with a number of problems. We answer some of the common questions we hear, like:
- What does it mean to get paid cash under the table?
- Is it legal in California to get paid cash under the table?
- What problems can arise if I'm paid cash under the table in Los Angeles?
- What should you do if you agreed to be paid cash under the table in Los Angeles and then aren't paid?
For a lot of workers – more than you may think – they get paid cash under the table, from construction workers to farm work to domestic work. Your position and possibly your immigration status are used against you to exploit you. If you accepted cash under the table for work and payment is not rendered upon completion of the work or your rights as a worker have been violated in other ways, contact an experienced employment attorney.
At Sirmabekian Law Firm, PC, we know how hard these types of cases are and how desperate you may be. Contact us at 818-473-5003 for a free consultation so that we can help you determine the best option to take.
To get paid cash under the table means you get paid cash off the books. Basically, you don’t pay taxes and the alleged employer doesn’t report it. If you do get paid in cash and it is reported, and there is also proof of verification of work performed such as a valid contract, then that payment of cash will not be considered as “under the table.”
Several years ago, the Los Angeles Times conducted a study and published the results. It found that one in six (1 in 6) workers are either misreported or paid off the books. One of the hardest-hit industries in the construction industry.
A report done by Economic Roundtable, a research group based in downtown Los Angeles, construction businesses in the United States employ approximately 895,000 workers. In the year 2011 alone, roughly 143,900 of these workers were labored unofficially.
About 39,800 workers were wrongly classified by employers to be independent contractors, despite them not owning the tools or planning their own schedules. In addition, 104,100 of these workers were not recorded at all.
While this article focused on construction workers, other workers are also misclassified or paid off the books, like workers in the landscaping, concrete, or similar industries. It also impacts domestic workers, like maids and nannies, among many other workers throughout Los Angeles and California.
In California, it is illegal to either get paid or pay cash under the table in exchange for work done. Some employers attempt to justify the practice as:
- This practice is relatively common.
- The payroll-related savings allows the company to be more competitive.
- The employer cannot afford insurance expenses and the payroll-related tax
- You don’t want any withholding on your pay.
- Bookkeeping is a lot easier.
The above justifications may be justifications for you or your employer, but they do not qualify as a legal justification for paying or getting paid cash under the table in Los Angeles or throughout California. There are relatively few if any situations where getting “paid cash under the table” is actually legal or done with lawful justification.
To pay or get paid under the table comes with serious consequences and can be a great source of problems for both the employer and employee.
The employer risks criminal prosecution. The employer also violates California’s labor laws, which can result in greater penalties for the employer.
Meanwhile, the employee risks benefits granted to other employees, like unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, or Social Security disability benefits. So, if something happens on the job and you are injured or you lose your job, you are left without much to fall back on.
Plus, you won’t have check stubs, W-2 forms, or other means to verify your earnings when it comes to things like finding housing or getting a loan, etc.
But what’s worse, the employee risks their rights as an employee, like:
- the right to be paid earned wages
- the right to minimum wage
- the right to overtime pay
- the right to take a meal break
- the right to take a rest break
- the right to be classified properly as an independent contractor or employee and to receive the benefits of the relevant designation.
When an employer does not provide the above rights, it violates California labor laws. When the employee agrees to get paid under the table, he or she is placed in a position where – though they need the work – he or she may not be able to get the compensation that is rightfully and lawfully theirs.
Of course, there are times when a person accepts cash payment under the table because he or she is an undocumented worker – in these situations, you really do not have a choice. You are vulnerable both to federal and state laws as well as to exploitation at the hands of the employer. If you are undocumented and your rights have been violated by an employer, it is important to seek legal counsel immediately.
If you work and get paid cash under the table, things may go well for a time, but then problems may arise. It’s important to contact an employment law attorney as soon as possible. Though you are paid cash under the table, you are still protected by the labor laws of California. You have rights. And an experienced employment law attorney can help you make sure your rights as a worker are upheld.
You may be scared to talk to someone about your situation in fear of getting into some kind of legal trouble yourself. Do not fear this, but fear the very real consequences for you and your family if you don’t speak to an attorney. Contact us at Sirmabekian Law Firm, PC, to schedule a free consultation today.
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