Lack of True Penalties Exacerbates Wage Theft in Oregon
January 20, 2021
By Janet Bauer Oregon employers face almost no downside to stealing the wages of workers, given that the boss rarely pays a penalty when caught. Although the state may compel employers to pay the wages owed, in only 1 percent of wage claims found to be valid by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) do employers wind up paying a penalty for their wrongdoing. The fact that employers risk little when they violate labor law exacerbates the problem of wage theft in Oregon.
BOLI rarely penalizes employers for wage violations; employers rarely payWage theft is a persistent and widespread problem. Wage theft is a catchall term for the many ways employers fail to pay workers the wages they have earned, such as failing to pay overtime, requiring people to work off the clock, and stealing tips. By one estimate, it costs low-paid workers nationwide over $50 billion annually. In Oregon since 2006, workers have submitted claims for unpaid wages worth more than $50 million.
Despite the pervasive problem that is wage theft, BOLI rarely imposes penalties on employers as a way to deter misconduct. When a worker suffers a wage violation, they may file a claim with BOLI. Of the wage claims filed over the period 2013-19, the Bureau found most of them — 3,703 in total — to be valid. Even though the agency has the authority to impose penalties in addition to requiring payment of wages, it does so rarely. BOLI levied penalties on just 16 percent of valid claims over the six-year period.
(Read the rest at link: https://www.ocpp.org/2021/01/20/lack-true-penalties-exacerbates-wage-theft-oregon/?blm_aid=28620)
Good article by the Oregon Center for Public Policy on the very real problem of wage theft -- employers not paying workers the wages owed. If your employer isn't paying you, or isn't paying you all that you are owed, you should consult an attorney.
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