Minimum Wages

ORS 653.055
Liability of noncomplying employer

  • contrary agreements no defense
  • wage claims
  • suits to enjoin future violations
  • attorney fees


Any employer who pays an employee less than the wages to which the employee is entitled under ORS 653.010 (Definitions for ORS 653.010 to 653.261) to 653.261 (Minimum employment conditions) is liable to the employee affected:


For the full amount of the wages, less any amount actually paid to the employee by the employer; and


For civil penalties provided in ORS 652.150 (Penalty wage for failure to pay wages on termination of employment).


Any agreement between an employee and an employer to work at less than the wage rate required by ORS 653.010 (Definitions for ORS 653.010 to 653.261) to 653.261 (Minimum employment conditions) is no defense to an action under subsection (1) of this section.


The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries has the same powers and duties in connection with a wage claim based on ORS 653.010 (Definitions for ORS 653.010 to 653.261) to 653.261 (Minimum employment conditions) as the commissioner has under ORS 652.310 (Definitions of employer and employee) to 652.445 (Deposit of moneys in Wage Collection Account) and in addition the commissioner may, without the necessity of assignments of wage claims from employees, initiate suits against employers to enjoin future failures to pay required minimum wages or overtime pay and to require the payment of minimum wages and overtime pay due employees but not paid as of the time of the filing of suit. The commissioner may join in a single proceeding and in one cause of suit any number of wage claims against the same employer. If the commissioner does not prevail in such action, the commissioner shall pay all costs and disbursements from the Bureau of Labor and Industries Account.


The court may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party in any action brought by an employee under this section. [1967 c.596 §11; 1977 c.513 §1; 1981 c.850 §2; 1981 c.897 §90; 1985 c.99 §7; 1995 c.618 §111]

Notes of Decisions

Under this section, where Labor Commissioner sued as assignee of affected employes, prevailing defendant-employer was not entitled to attorney fees. State ex rel Stevenson v. Youth Adventures, 42 Or App 263, 600 P2d 880 (1979), Sup Ct review denied

"Civil penalties provided in ORS 652.150" refers to method for calculating minimum wage or overtime violation penalty and does not result in penalty being merged with penalty for failure to pay wages at termination. Cornier v. Paul Tulacz, DVM PC, 176 Or App 245, 30 P3d 1210 (2001)

Where employer failed to pay overtime wages, subsequent termination of employment did not provide basis for additional claim based on nonpayment of same wages at termination. Mathis v. Housing Authority of Umatilla County, 242 F. Supp. 2d 777 (D. Or. 2002)

Reference to ORS 652.150 under subsection (1) of this section includes need to establish that employer's failure to pay wages is willful in order to impose civil penalties. Migis v. Autozone, Inc., 282 Or App 774, 387 P3d 381 (2016)

§§ 653.010 to 653.261

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Jurisdiction of Wage and Hour Commission, (1974) Vol 37, p 163

§§ 653.010 to 653.256

Notes of Decisions

Person is employee for purposes of minimum wage law if suffered or permitted to work. State ex rel Roberts v. Bomareto Ent., Inc., 153 Or App 183, 956 P2d 254 (1998), Sup Ct review denied

§§ 653.010 to 653.065

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Commission authority to prescribe rest periods for excluded employes, (1972) Vol 35, p 1112

Chapter 653

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Wage and Hour Commission jurisdiction to regulate governmental entity's employment of minors, (1979) Vol 39, p 489


Last accessed
Jun. 26, 2021