You work hard for the money paid to you by your employer. When you receive a paycheck that does not reflect how much money that you deserve, it feels like a slap in the face. Fortunately, workers can recover the wages lost because of employer incompetence at best and employer dishonesty at worst. Wage theft occurs when an employer denies the wages that an employee rightfully deserves. Workers from virtually every type of industry can fall victim to a wage theft scheme.

Employers have 6 common methods for stealing employee wages:

  • Failing to pay full overtime wages
  • Misclassifying an employee into a lower pay grade
  • Violating state and federal minimum wage laws
  • Working off the clock
  • Unlawful paycheck deductions
  • Not receiving wages at all

The Steps You Should Take

The first step is to report a case of wage theft to the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), which manages and enforces some of our country’s most influential labor laws. WHD commits resources to protect all workers against wage theft, regardless of a worker’s immigration status. You can contact the WHD at 1-866-487-9243 or access the Department of Labor web page devoted to wage theft to learn how to submit a complaint. The WHD operates more than 200 offices that are scattered across the United States. When the time comes to file a formal complaint with the WHD, make sure to submit the following information:

  • Your name
  • Contact information
  • Employer’s name
  • Contact information for your employer
  • Name of owner or manager
  • Your job title and description of work
  • Details of the pay period

Department of Labor at the State Level

Most states have a Department of Labor or Department of Employment that handles wage theft cases. You can submit a claim with the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries. When you file your claim, you will need to submit evidence that wage theft occurred. Submitting copies of pay stubs, time records, and any other information that highlights the wage violations committed by your employer can boost your chances of getting a wage theft claim approved. All Department of Labor services are free and just as important, confidential to prevent your employer from retaliating against you for filing a wage theft complaint. You can file a wage theft claim at the state or municipal level depending on where the wage theft took

Remedies for Wage Theft

You have two remedies to fight back against your employer in a wage theft case. The Department of Labor might rule that your employer must compensate you for back wages and/or require your employer to change its current wage policies to comply with state and federal labor laws. You should work to recover all the money stolen by your employer, as well as force your employer to play by the rules. Employers that intentionally steal employee wages can face a fine of up to $10,000 for every violation or face other penalties.