Nearly 40,000 Minnesotans lose $12 million in wage theft and lost pay each year. Oftentimes, these losses occur in the form of unpaid overtime, withholding paychecks and misclassifying workers as independent contractors. Sometimes these employers simply refuse to pay the employee all wages owed. Our employment lawyers have the experience, strength and resources necessary to take on even the largest corporations to hold employers liable for wage theft and wage and hour violations.

While Minnesota has several laws that protect employees’ wage and hour rights—including the Minnesota Wage Theft Prevention Act, the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act (“MN-FLSA” and its federal equivalent) and the Minnesota Payment of Wages Act, which in turn set minimum wage standards, require overtime for non-exempt workers, hold employers accountable for misclassifying independent contractors and prohibit wage deductions and tip sharing—many employers fail to follow these law and retaliate against workers for asserting their rights. 

What is wage theft?

Employers are prohibited from paying employees anything less than the full amount owed for work performed. Generally, “wage theft” refers to an employer failing to pay the entire amount of compensation owed to an employee for work the employee has completed. The clearest case of wage theft occurs when an employer simply fails to pay an employee the full amount owed for work performed — an employee works a full-time job expecting to make $500 after taxes, but the employer pays her only $400.

However, wage theft can come in other forms of payment practices, such as:

  • Forcing an employee to give a receipt for wages greater than the amount actually paid;
  • Demanding an employee refund wages paid to the employee that were rightfully owed to the employee;
  • Any other method of making it appear as though the employer paid the employee an amount of wages greater than the amount actually paid.

In the previous example, these forms of wage theft may occur where the employer pays the full $500 but demands the employee repay $100 back to the employer. Employers who do not pay overtime, ask employees to keep working after clocking out, or do not give sick or safe time also may be engaging in wage theft. 

How do I report wage theft?

Employees who believe their employer is withholding wages, failing to pay all wages, refusing to pay overtime or is otherwise violating their wage and hour rights can make a report to the employer or file a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Labor. Further, they should contact a lawyer specializing in wage and hour law to understand their rights and protections. Our employment lawyers offer free initial case evaluations and can help assess the best course of action for your situation.

Can my employer fire me for reporting wage theft or seeking unpaid pages?

While many employees hesitate to report that they are owed wages out of concern of retaliation by their employer, under Minnesota law, employers are prohibited from terminating or taking adverse action against an employee for seeking unpaid wages or asserting their rights under wage and hour laws. Whether the employee makes a report to the employer, files a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Labor or notifies the employer of their intent to file a complaint, the employee is protected from any form of retaliation for exercising their rights.


Wanta Thome PLC is committed to protecting the wage and hour rights of all Minnesota employees. If you believe you have not been paid all wages owed, had wages deducted without your permission, been misclassified as an independent contractor, or believe your wage and hour rights have been violated, our employment lawyers want to hear from you. Contact us for a free initial consultation.


Contact us for a no-obligation confidential consultation with our employment law team.

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