Ohio Cracking Down on Wage Theft
According to Policy Matters Ohio, employers steal from more than 213,000 Ohioans each year by paying workers below the minimum wage. This wage theft costs workers an average of $2,900 or a quarter of their total wages after a full year of work. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown recently discussed his new Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act that would crack down on employers who unfairly withhold wages from their employees. The legislation would help put wages back in workers’ pockets and strengthen worker protections.
Senator Brown stated, “It’s simple: If you put in the work, you should get paid for it. Companies should not be able to cheat workers out of the wages they earned and get away with it. Our bill will give workers the power to fight back and recover their lost paychecks, and it will mean real consequences for employers that steal the wages Ohioans work so hard for.”
What is the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act?
The Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act would:
- Help strengthen workers’ rights to fair pay
- Improve employer accountability
- Increase penalties for wage theft violations
- Support the recovery of stolen wages
- Expand workers’ rights to their employment records
On a conference call with Policy Matters Ohio, Brown spotlighted two Ohio workers who were victims of wage theft and had them share their thoughts. “So many people keep quiet about wage theft for fear of losing their jobs. It’s time we put a stop to this,” said Cleveland worker and resident, Ernest Hatten. Cincinnati construction worker, Gandhi Merida shared, “This is what I think: If we had a better system that really penalized contractors for wage theft, wage theft would stop. But because there’s not a strong enough policy that really holds employers accountable, these employers just keep doing it – no one is stopping them from stealing from their workers. Workers need a system that gives them a voice on the job and that really protects them when they speak up and make a complaint about this type of abuse from employers.”
Michael Shields, who conducted the new research for Policy Matters Ohio commented, “Ohioans believe that an honest day’s work deserves an honest day’s pay. Today across the state, some employers are stealing millions of dollars in wages from working people, hurting our families and communities. Employers steal from workers because they can. Few employers ever face consequences. Wage theft is theft. It’s time those who commit it face real consequences.”
Amending the FLSA
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that prevents employers from stealing wages from their employees. The proposed Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act would amend the FLSA in 7 main ways:
- Requiring all employers to provide regular pay stubs and initial salary disclosures
- Changing wage recovery by requiring payment at an employee’s agreed-upon wage rate versus at the minimum wage or minimum overtime wage rates
- Changing final paychecks by requiring the full payment of any remaining salary to be provided on the sooner of the scheduled payday or 14 days of termination
- Requiring employers to keep employee records for five years and permitting inspection of records within 21 days of any employee request
- Changing FLSA collective actions from an “opt-in” model to an “opt-out” model
- Invalidating and prohibiting all arbitration agreements and class action waivers occurring under the FLSA
Contact Our Firm to Learn More
As new legislation is discussed, positive action to prevent wage theft is happening. Our skilled attorneys have experience working with people who have suffered from this abuse. If you or a loved one have been impacted by a wage violation, contact our firm today for a free consultation. One of our Fair Labor Standards Act lawyers would be happy to speak with you and learn more about your situation.