Active Cases
Employment Attorneys Cincinnati, OH | Dayton, OH
Active Cases
LOCAL: 513-834-8254
Local: 513-834-8254

Wage Theft Tactics & How to Fight Back

A young woman with curly hair and glasses is seated at a table, looking stressed and overwhelmed as she looks at her paycheck.

State and federal wage and hour laws are meant to protect workers. However, that’s not always how it plays out in practice. Whether due to ignorance or a deliberate ploy to pay workers less than they are owed, too many employers flout the law, and the consequence is money right out of your paycheck.

The only way to protect your paycheck is to know your rights

Wage theft is any violation of the wage and hour laws that results in workers being paid less than they are owed for their work. Nationwide, it’s a $50 billion problem. The good news is that you can take action to protect your rights, but first, you have to know what your rights are.

Examples of wage theft to watch out for

There are many forms of wage theft, but they broadly fall into a few categories:

  • Not paying at least the legal minimum wage. With very few exceptions, employers need to pay at least the legal minimum wage for all hours worked. The current minimum wage in Ohio is $10.45 per hour for non-tipped workers and $5.25 for tipped workers.
  • Not paying for all hours worked. If you’re doing work, you should be paid. That includes breaks of 20 minutes or less, travel time that is part of your job (but not your regular home-to-work commute), and time when you are engaged to wait for an assignment. If your employer requires you to work off the clock, that is a violation of wage and hour laws.
  • Misclassifying workers. Some workers are treated as “exempt,” meaning they don’t get paid overtime, even though they do not meet the strict legal requirements for the exemption. Others are treated as independent contractors even though they should be employees. Both types of misclassification can result in massive amounts of lost income over time.
  • Making incorrect calculations and improper deductions. This category includes incorrectly calculating the overtime rate, taking the tip credit for non-tipped work, and making certain types of deductions from the employee’s paycheck without their consent.

How employees can spot wage theft

Some forms of wage theft are blatant, while others are subtle. Still, if you pay close attention to your pay, you can take steps to protect your rights. Here’s how to spot potential wage theft:

  • Look carefully at each paycheck. Make sure the hours worked match up and any deductions are legitimate. Double-check your employer’s math to make sure you’re actually being paid your hourly rate for all hours worked.
  • Keep track of your own hours worked. If your employer’s records don’t match yours, the discrepancy could be money out of your paycheck. Remember, legally your employer has to pay you for all hours you’ve worked, not necessarily your assigned shift.
  • Save any correspondence about your pay. If your employer puts something in writing, save a copy for your own records. If your boss tells you something about your pay orally, document it. Look for any discrepancies and follow up to get to the bottom of what happened.
  • Know your job duties and make sure you are correctly classified. If your employer says you are an independent contractor, are you meaningfully independent? If they say you can’t get overtime because you’re a manager, do you spend most of your work time actually managing? Your classification depends on your job duties, not your job title.
  • Talk to your coworkers. Remember, you have the legal right to discuss wages and benefits with your colleagues, even if your employer has a policy to the contrary. (The only exception is for management employees.) Take advantage of that right – if you think something is wrong, your coworkers may have more information or similar experiences.

Contact a wage law attorney today

If you suspect wage theft, take two steps to protect your rights. First, document everything. Save copies of your pay stubs, hours worked, and any other documentation that could support your claim. Then, contact an experienced wage law attorney as soon as possible.

Our attorneys have a winning track record in wage and hour cases, including a $1.5 million settlement on behalf of 492 employees who were owed money by their employer. We can explain your legal options and represent your interests throughout the legal process. Contact Gibson Law, LLC today for a free case evaluation.

Categories: Posts

Our Locations

Cincinnati, OH

9200 Montgomery Road
Suite #11A
Cincinnati, OH 45242
(513) 834-8254

View Map

Dayton, OH

11 W. Monument Ave
Suite 304
Dayton, OH 45402
(937) 884-1185

View Map

Free Case
Consultation Click Here