Wage theft is unfortunately quite common and widespread across many different types of employment. Wage theft occurs when an employer fails to pay an employee the correct amount of wages.
Common examples of wage theft include not paying overtime, vacation or sick pay, paying less than the minimum wage, not paying wages on termination and adjusting a time clock so that less time is paid than actually worked.
Wage theft is illegal in Oregon as it is in all other states. If you have proof of wage theft and cannot sort it out with your employer, you should file a wage theft claim with the state agency that deals with it.
Many employees find that it can help to contact an employment law attorney before filing a claim.
What You Need to Know Before You File a Wage Theft Claim
The two most common forms of wage theft are not paying overtime and not paying the minimum wage. Both of these are illegal in Oregon.
State employment law requires employers to pay overtime rates for any time worked over 40 hours in any seven day working week.
Overtime pay in Oregon is calculated at time and a half, i.e. every hour of overtime should be paid at one and a half times the normal hourly wage.
There are federal and state minimum wage laws. In Oregon, the minimum wage varies according to the county or administrative district where the place of employment is located.
The lowest is currently $11.00 an hour in predominantly rural counties and the highest, in metro Portland, is $12.50 an hour.
There are other requirements that must be met by employers, such as paying for lunch breaks if employees are required to work through them and not deducting tips from wages.The minimum wage and other wage laws are published on the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) poster.
Oregon state laws on minimum wages do not apply to all employees as there are a number of occupations which are exempt from these rules.
How to Report Wage Theft
If you believe that you have experienced wage theft, you should file a wage claim with the Wage and Hour Division of the state Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). The sooner you do this, the faster a resolution may be made.
There is a statute of limitations which prohibits any claim from being made more than 6 years after the wage theft was alleged to have been made for most cases of underpayment except for overtime not paid, which is two years.
The Wage and Hour Division has powers to investigate the allegation of wage theft and, if found to be upheld, force the employer to pay the difference in wages owed retrospectively.
Alternatively, you may file a lawsuit through the civil court. The law allows you to reclaim any amount of wages that has not lawfully been paid to you over $200, whichever is the greater. Attorney’s fees and court costs may also be recovered in such a lawsuit.
Fill Out a Free Evaluation form
If you think you have been subject to wage theft by your employer, you should fill out a free evaluation form. You may wish to consult with an employment law attorney prior to filing your claim.