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Employees: Look out for wage theft

| Mar 12, 2020 | Employment Law |

Each year, the Ohio minimum wage increases in order to account for increases in cost-of-living expenses.  On January 1, 2020, the Ohio minimum wage increased to $8.70 per hour for eligible employees. This change in the law requires employers to adjust their pay policies to comply with the new law – as well as employee’s rights.

Employees must understand their rights under this new law and all of Ohio’s wage and hour laws. Unfortunately, wage theft is still common in workplaces across the nation, and costs workers an average total of $50 billion each year.

What is wage theft?

Wage theft is the common term used to describe when employers do not pay their employees the wages they are due. There are several ways that employers do this, including:

  • Failing to pay employees premium pay (e.g., time-and-a-half hourly rate) for hours above 40 they work in a workweek;;
  • Not paying eligible employees the legal minimum wage; and
  • Failing to pay employees for certain periods of time or tasks, such as drive-time, loading and unloading equipment, work performed during lunchbreaks or at home.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) entitles employees to these rights. Ohio law further supports the FLSA, entitling employees to a higher minimum wage, and the same rights to overtime pay and other financial benefits.

Employees must know the signs of wage theft

In some cases, employees might not even be aware they are the subject of wage theft.

All employees must be on the lookout for the signs of wage theft so they can take legal action if necessary. While some groups of employees are certainly are more vulnerable to wage theft than others, it affects all fields of employment and all workers.

Some of the most common signs of wage theft include:

  • If the employer’s math of hours and income is unclear and not forthcoming;
  • If the employer pays employees the same hourly rate for every hour worked, including those hours over 40 in a workweek;
  • If the employer automatically deducts employees’ pay for lunch breaks and other types of breaks;
  • If the employer does not start paying employees until they arrive to the customer’s location;
  • If an employee is incorrectly classified as an independent contractor; and
  • If employers make deductions from the paycheck, citing repairs or other issues unrelated to the employee’s work.


All workers deserve fair pay for their work. Employees must watch out for these signs of wage theft so they can protect their rights.