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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!

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