Last updated on October 27th, 2022
“Wage theft” sounds serious. If you’re like most victims of wage theft in Ohio and around the country, you may not even realize that’s what’s happening to you. You probably don’t know your legal rights, or that you may be able to recover those stolen wages and perhaps additional damages.
We’d all like to think wage theft is relatively rare. But, data from Policy Matters Ohio tells us that’s not true. The non-profit policy research institute says Ohio employers steal from about 213,000 workers each year. The amount stolen from Ohio workers through labor law violations varies significantly, but averages about $55/week per victim. Across a year of work, that’s more than $2,800.
In simple terms, wage theft occurs when an employer doesn’t pay an employee everything the employee is owed. This can happen in a variety of different ways, including not paying for all time worked and not paying the agreed or legally-mandated rate for the time worked.
Wage theft can happen to anyone. Wage theft occurs across a wide range of industries, from agriculture and construction to professional services and the financial sector. But, some workers are more likely to be cheated out of their wages than others. For example, more women than men are victims of wage theft in Ohio. And, while white workers make up the largest share of those subjected to wage theft, some racial minorities are disproportionately likely to suffer wage theft. Specifically, Hispanic workers are 74% more likely to be victims of wage theft than white employees, and Asians 51% more likely than whites to have their wages stolen.
One of the most significant variables determining how likely an employee is to suffer wage theft is income level. Though less than 4% of Ohio workers are affected by wage theft, that number jumps to more than 18% for workers earning $11.44/hour or less. In other words, Ohio employers are most likely to steal from the workers who can least afford to lose out on earnings.
The leisure and hospitality industry leads the pack, with more than 108,000 employees experiencing wage theft. That’s more than half of wage theft victims across all industries.
Wage theft can happen in many different ways. Here are some of the most common ways Ohio employers unlawfully underpay their employees.
The exact compensation available for wage theft in Ohio depends on the type of violation, and on whether the action violates federal law, Ohio state law, or both. Often, the employee is entitled to more than the unpaid wages. For example, under federal law, an employee who lost income to minimum wage violations or overtime violations may recover the amount lost plus “a like amount” in liquidated damages–in simple terms, twice the amount they were cheated out of.
To learn more about whether you may have been the victim of wage theft and the remedies available to you, call 937-222-2222 right now, or fill out the contact form on this page to speak with a Dayton injury lawyer.
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