Black Ohioans, women more at risk of wage theft
Posted September 25, 2019 in Press Releases
Working people deserve to be paid for all the hours they work. Yet each year, employers steal wages from hundreds of thousands of Ohio workers. Around 217,000 Ohioans are illegally paid less than minimum wage. They lose an average of $2,800 each. Employers target workers of all demographics, but women and workers of color are more likely to be victimized, according to analysis from Policy Matters Ohio.
Ohio employers stole an average of $2,400 per year in wages from 35,120 black workers; $2,800 from 164,600 white workers and $3,100 from 7,730 Latinx workers. Employers paid black workers less than the minimum wage 70.1% more often than they did white workers.
Ohio employers were more likely to steal women’s wages and stole larger amounts: 134,830 women lost an average of $2,900, and 82,160 men lost $2,700 each. Women were victims of wage theft 73.2 percent more often than men.
Paying workers less than minimum wage is one of many ways employers steal from their workers. Employers also undercut the agreed wage, don’t pay for all hours worked, or don’t pay overtime rates, treat workers as contractors when they are legally employees, or make illegal deductions. Because workers fear retaliation or don’t know their rights, most cases are never reported.
“Minimum wage violations are especially harmful because victims earn so little and depend heavily on the wages they earn,” said Michael Shields, report author and researcher at Policy Matters Ohio.
According to the data, employers stole the equivalent of 22.4% of the victims’ average annual earnings.
The report recommends that cities pass anti-wage theft ordinances to step up enforcement.
“Wage theft cuts across race and gender, but already disadvantaged workers are most likely to fall victim. Ohio has dropped the ball. It’s time for cities to step up and protect residents,” said Shields.