How Does Wage Theft Affect Workers?

Anyone Can Be a Victim of Wage Theft

Wage theft is a significant issue that affects millions of workers each year. Unfortunately, many people do not even realize they are a victim until it’s too late. In this post, we will discuss what wage theft is and some of the most common forms it takes. We will also share resources for workers who think they may have been a victim of wage theft. So, if you are interested in learning more about this important topic, keep reading!

Wait, What IS Wage Theft?

Wage theft is the practice of employers not paying workers their full wages for all hours worked in a timely manner.   Examples include: paying less than the federal or state minimum wage, not paying overtime, not including all of the workers’ wages when paying overtime, automatically deducting the time for meal breaks when workers do not get the meal break, requiring workers to work off-the-clock or taking workers’ tips.   This is a major issue that impacts workers and their families in the short-term, as well as long run. Not only does it reduce the income that a person would have been making had they not been deprived, but wage theft also impacts loved ones by taking away money for resources like food, rent or mortgage payments, out-of-pocket healthcare costs and clothing.

What are some steps that workers can take if they experience wage theft or if they suspect that their employer is engaging in this practice?

One option is to contact the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), WHD | U.S. Department of Labor ( which investigates wage concerns. All calls are confidential, and you can call to ask questions about labor laws even if you are not sure, you want or need to file a complaint. In Ohio you can contact the Bureau of Wage & Hour Administration to file a complaint for non-payment of regular wages or overtime at Wage & Hour | Ohio Department of Commerce.

There are organizations that help workers who are the victims of wage theft.  Many unions provide workers wage theft assistance, as well as non-profit organizations. In central Ohio, the Central Ohio Worker Center is leading resource for Ohio workers. They can be contacted at

Know Your Rights

The first step to combating and preventing wage theft is understanding your federal and state rights at work.  While some mistakes are accidental, many wage issues are a result of an employers’ policy violate state and/or federal wage laws. You should track your own hours and keep your own record of the hours you actually work.   If you perform tasks that help prepare you for your job duties or necessary after your shift is over, that is still work and you should be paid for that time.  If you are not being paid for that time, seek help.  It is important to speak up about wage theft and fight for your rights as a worker!

Wage theft is a significant issue that impacts workers and their families. This problem has been around for a long time, but it continues to persist.  This practice reduces the income of hardworking people and should not be tolerated. If you have experienced wage theft, or know someone who has, please call a union, a workers’ right center or a wage and hour lawyer to discuss your case. You may be entitled to back pay, damages, and other relief. Thank you for reading our blog post on this important topic.

The Paycheck Warriors is a bi-weekly column written by The Paycheck Warrior himself, Managing Partner Bob DeRose. Every other week, just like your paycheck, Bob will take the time to address commonly asked questions about wage and hour law. He will also take on wage and hour topics popping up in the news. Have a question? Leave a comment and see what The Paycheck Warrior has to say!

How Does Product Liability Work in Ohio?

How Does Product Liability Work in Ohio?

Injuries and accidents happen all the time. Injuries caused by a defective product may qualify you for a product liability lawsuit.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) organizes its accident, injury and fatality statistics into the following categories.

  • Amusement Rides
  • All-terrain vehicles and recreational off-road vehicles
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Chemicals
  • Electrical
  • Electrocutions
  • Fire
  • Fuel, lighters and fireworks
  • Furniture and decor
  • Home appliances, maintenance and construction
  • Kitchen and dining
  • Nonpool submersions
  • Nursery products
  • Older adults
  • Other children’s products
  • Other furniture and décor
  • Other sports
  • Pediatric poisonings
  • Playgrounds
  • Pool and spas
  • Portable generators
  • Portable generators and engine-driven tools
  • Public facilities and products
  • Sports and recreation
  • Tipovers
  • Toys
  • Toys and children’s products


As extensive as that list is, it omits cars, trucks, automotive equipment, and a whole range of other items and devices that people regularly use in their homes and at work.

The categories of consumer products that are monitored for the harms they cause exist, first, to identify dangerous and defective items. That information is then used to either make products safer or to remove them from the market.

Second, the CPSC’s list reflects the bedrock legal principle that companies and individuals who make and sell products have enforceable duties to ensure their products will not injure or kill people. Breaching those duties creates product liability.

How Does Ohio Define Product Liability?

Section 2307.71 of the Ohio Revised Code (O.R.C.) states that manufacturers or suppliers face product liability when one of the items they make or sell causes a death or injury because the item

  • Was poorly designed, formulated, constructed, assembled, repaired, or tested;
  • Was deceptively or fraudulently marketed;
  • Lacked sufficient warnings;
  • Lacked adequate instructions for safe use; or
  • Failed “to conform to any relevant representation or warranty.”

This section of the O.R.C. also defines a manufacturer as “a person [or company] engaged in a business to design, formulate, produce, create, make, construct, assemble, or rebuild a product or a component of a product.” Under the law, a supplier is either “a person [or company] that, in the course of a business conducted for the purpose, sells, distributes, leases, prepares, blends, packages, labels, or otherwise participates in the placing of a product in the stream of commerce” or “a person [or company] that, in the course of a business conducted for the purpose, installs, repairs, or maintains any aspect of a product.”

Grounds for filing a product liability lawsuit exist when the use of a defective or dangerous product directly causes death, physical injury or emotional distress to a person. The use can be one time for over an extended period. Property damage from a defective or dangerous product can also merit a lawsuit.

How Long Do I Have to File a Product Liability Claim in Ohio?

Generally, section 2305.01 of the O.R.C. sets the statute of limitations for a product liability claim at two years from the date on which a personal injury or wrongful death occurred. The law further specifies that injuries or deaths that happen more than 10 years after a product was purchased will not support claims for compensation.

A major exception to the statute of limitation involves injuries or death due to an exposure or ingestion of medications or hazardous and toxic chemicals, or the implantation or use of a medical device. In those situations, the deadline for filing a product liability lawsuit extends from the date on which a diagnosis of the harm was made.

What Types of Damages Can Be Claimed in a Product Liability Lawsuit?

Ohio’s product liability laws allow victims to demand compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are monetary settlements or jury awards that cover the costs of the victim’s past and future medical treatments, replace lost wages and future earnings, and compensate the victim for physical and emotional pain and suffering.

Punitive damages are noncriminal fines assessed to penalize a negligent or reckless manufacturer or supplier. These are also called exemplary damages because the financial penalty is meant to serve as an example of what could happen to another person or company that acts in a similarly negligent or reckless way. Only a jury can award punitive damages, but a product liability claim can be settled without going to trial.

On a final note, when a dangerous or defective product kills a user, Ohio law permits the victim’s spouse, adult child, next of kin, relative, or legal executor to file a wrongful death claim on the deceased victim’s behalf.

Tip Credit and the 80/20 Rule

Re-introducing: the Paycheck Warriors at Barkan Meizlish, LLP! The Paycheck Warriors is a weekly column written by The Paycheck Warrior himself, Managing Partner Bob DeRose. Every week, Bob will take the time to address commonly asked questions about wage and hour law. He will also take on wage and hour topics popping up in the news. Have a question? Leave a comment and see what The Paycheck Warrior has to say! Today’s topic: tip credit and the 80/20 rule


How many jobs can your server have?  And which job pays them at least minimum wages? What is a tip credit?

Did you know that your busy server is actually doing three jobs at once?

An employer is required to pay their employees at least the Federal minimum wage for all hours worked, currently $7.25 per hour; however, for employees who regularly and customarily receive tips, employers may apply a “tip credit” which allows them count tips received as if it were cash payment toward the minimum wage.   Servers being paid under a “tip credit” system, can be paid as little as $2.13 per hour (in states that don’t have a state tipped employee minimum here is a link to the Department of Labor’s list of state minimum wage requirements) and the restaurant owner uses customers’ tips to make up the remainder of the minimum wage owed.   Thus, the employer gets a “credit” for the tips customers leave to apply to its obligation to pay its servers.

In 2018, the Trump administration, removed a provision of the “tip credit” that required employers to pay tipped employees the full minimum wage when they are spending more than 20% of their time performing non-tipped duties.  On December 28, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reinstated the “80/20 Rule” and broadened tipped employee protections. Under the revived and renewed “80/20” rule, a tip credit is not available when tipped employees spend more than 20% of their working time on non-tipped activities. The revision also created the “30-Minute” Rule.  The “30-Minute” rule prohibits employers from taking a tip credit when a tipped employee spends more than thirty continuous minutes performing non-tipped work.

The new rule creates three categories of work:    “Tip-producing work,” “work that directly supports tip-producing work,” and “work that is not part of the tipped occupation.”

What is tip-producing work?

The DOL provided a non-exhaustive list in its final rule but defined it as “all aspects of the work performed by a tipped employee when they are providing service to the customer” and customarily and regularly receive tips.

What is directly supporting work?

According to the Rule, directly supporting work is work that is “either performed in preparation of or otherwise assists the tip-producing customer service work.”  The DOL provided another non-exhaustive list of what it considers directly supporting work.  The directly supporting work are tasks that an employer assigns and are foreseeable such as refilling condiment containers, rolling silverware, setting tables, bussing tables, and cleaning up the table areas.   Servers waiting for customers to wait on is considered “directly supporting work.”   An employer cannot take a tip credit for directly supporting work that exceeds 20% of the server’s workweek or performed for more than 30-minutes at a time.

What is work that is not part of the tipped occupation?

Everything else.

Confused?    Not surprising! The reinstated and revised “80/20 Rule”  does give servers more protections.  It will be a challenge for employers to categorize a tipped employee’s hours worked each week, but they must do it if they want to comply with the FLSA and pay employees correctly.  It is important to note that the “80/20” Rule applies to all tipped employees, not just restaurant workers.   If are a tipped employee with questions about how your employer pays you, feel free to call us at Barkan Meizlish DeRose Cox, LLP.

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