Employment Law Attorneys Ohio & Nationwide

Spotting Wage Theft: Know Your Rights

A close-up image featuring a wooden gavel resting on a block, placed on top of a spread of one hundred dollar bills and near a calculator.

In Ohio and across the United States, wage theft is a multi-billion-dollar issue. According to the Economic Policy Institute, wage law violations may cost employees up to $50 billion a year – but the actual number is incredibly hard to pin down because so many cases of wage theft go unreported and uninvestigated.

If your employer is violating the wage and hour laws, we can help

The only way to change that is for more workers to know their rights and speak up when their employers violate the law. Here’s what you need to know about spotting wage theft and how an experienced wage law attorney can help you take action if you are a victim.

By law, you should be paid for all hours worked

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as state wage and hour laws, employees have certain rights. You have the right to be paid for all hours worked, including time spent traveling as part of your job, putting on and taking off equipment needed to protect the products you make, breaks of less than 30 minutes, and all other work hours. You also must be paid overtime (time and a half) for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek, unless you meet the very specific criteria to be exempt from overtime. And your employer has to pay at least the legal minimum wage – and can’t make certain deductions that take you below that amount.

It seems simple enough, but employers have many ways to pay workers less than they are owed, sometimes much less. Among the top forms of wage theft include:

  • Not paying for travel time that is part of the job. Your regular home-to-work commute is generally not considered work time, but additional travel as part of your work duties generally is.
  • Making employees clock out for short rest breaks, or interrupting unpaid breaks. By law, an unpaid break must be at least 30 uninterrupted minutes during which you are relieved of all work duties. If your employer makes you clock out for breaks of 20 minutes or less, or if they interrupt your unpaid break with work duties, they are committing wage theft.
  • Misclassifying employees as exempt to avoid paying overtime.
  • Misclassifying employees as independent contractors to avoid wage and hour laws (and other employment laws).
  • Paying the tipped minimum wage for non-tipped work.
  • Engaging in pay-to-shift policies – by law, the employee must be paid for their actual hours worked, not necessarily their scheduled shift.

How to spot wage theft in action

There are a number of steps you can take to catch your employer violating wage and hour laws. Take the following steps to protect your legal rights:

  • Keep track of your own hours worked and compare your records to each paycheck. Discrepancies may indicate that your employer is deliberately under-counting your hours worked.
  • Keep track of your breaks, too. If your employer makes you clock out or deducts a break from your pay, then you should get 30 uninterrupted minutes.
  • If your employer calls you a “manager” or “supervisor” and says you don’t get overtime, take a close look at your actual job duties. Do you spend most of your time managing other employees, or engaging in ordinary work tasks? You may be misclassified.
  • Look closely at your paycheck to ensure you are actually being paid at the correct rate (including time and a half for overtime). Carefully scrutinize any deductions, too, especially if they take you below minimum wage.
  • If something seems off, remember that you have the right to talk to your coworkers about wages (as long as you are a non-management employee).

Contact our wage and hour attorneys today

If you suspect you are a victim of wage theft, document everything. Then, contact an experienced wage and hour attorney at Nilges Draher LLC. Our legal team has extensive experience and a winning track record in wage theft cases. In one case, we recovered $5.9 million for a class of workers who were misclassified as exempt; in another, we recovered $4.9 million for a class of workers who were not paid for travel time.

The sooner you get us on your side, the more effectively we will be able to protect your rights. Give us a call or contact us online today for a free case evaluation. We can help.

Categories: Posts
North Canton Office

7034 Braucher St NW
Suite B
North Canton, OH 44720
Phone: 330-470-4428
Fax: 330-754-1430

Cleveland Office

1360 E 9th St
Suite 808
Cleveland, OH 44114
Phone: 216-230-2955
Fax: 330-754-1430

Columbus Office

34 N High St #502
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-824-5770
Fax: 330-754-1430

Book YourFree Phone Evaluation Send Us a Message