Ohio Workers’ Compensation and COVID-19 FAQ Infographic

We hope this infographic is helpful to you. Our COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation attorneys are available to answer questions and help you through your claims process, should you proceed. You can email us at info@barkanmeizlish.com, or call 614-221-4221. We hope you are staying safe and well during the current situation, and staying home to help #flattenthecurve.

Economic Impact Payments Eligibility for Non-Filers

Economic Impact Payments: Non-Filer Need to Knows 

The United States Federal Government has officially started rolling out Economic Impact Payments to eligible citizens. If you filed 2018 and 2019 taxes, and opted for direct refund deposits, your check should be direct deposited. If you opted to have your refund mailed, your stimulus check will be mailed to you.  However, if you did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019, you may be confused about what steps you need to take.

Most recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance, Social Security Retirement, or survivor benefits will receive benefits automatically. On the other hand, some recipients of Federal aid programs are not eligible for the same automatic relief. Groups that do not qualify for automatic relief include:

  • Individuals who receive veteran’s disability compensation,
  • A pension, or
  • Survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, or
  • Individual’s whose income level was lower than federal tax filing requirements

If you fall into any of the above categories, you must take additional steps to receive your economic impact payment. Here is what you need to do!

First, please visit THIS page. You will be able to fill out the required “mini” tax return form. This form is used instead of a traditional tax return form. After you create your account and submit your application, watch your emails.  Once completed, you will receive a confirmation email. Once you have completed these steps, the process for receiving your economic impact payment check will be in motion.

If you still have questions about how you may be impacted by these rules, a social security attorney can help.

Social Media As Evidence and the SSA

Can An Administrative Law Judge Use Social Media as Evidence?

Social media constantly evolves. Keeping up with social media developments can be a huge task. Lawmakers and attorneys have a responsibility, within reason, to keep up with these changes. They may impact existing laws and regulations. Some changes can even lead to the creation of new laws. We previously reported that Facebook posts could be used in an ALJ’s decision on your Social Security Disability claim. However, the law continues to evolve. Now, there are some limitations on an ALJ’s ability to use your social media as evidence.

Updated Laws and Guidelines

Recent guideline changes impact how ALJ’s use social media in their rulings. The Social Security Administration guidelines state that, “adjudicators and hearing office staff must not use Internet sites and social media networks to obtain information about claimants to adjudicate cases.” This means that an Administrative Law Judge cannot use your social media as evidence against you. There are exceptions to the rule. These exceptions involve the Cooperative Disability Investigation Unit (CDIU). If a CDIU investigation finds social media content as appropriate evidence, it can be used by an ALJ in their decision-making. Your ALJ should not use your social media to directly rule against your SSDI claim unless approved to do so.

Responsible Social Media Usage

At the end of the day, however, social media posts can be more public than intended. You never know who is looking at your content, or when a post will come into question in a court of law. Take it from our Social Security Disability Attorney, Mindy Yocum:  “Never post anything on social media that you would not want read aloud in court!”

If you are filing a Social Security Disability Insurance claim, and need guidance through the process, give us a call today.

What Kind of Results Can I Expect if I File a Lawsuit for Unpaid Overtime in Ohio?

No Ohio employee rights attorney can guarantee the outcome of an unpaid overtime lawsuit.

Winning is not a sure thing, and the amount of money that can be claimed in the event of succeeding at trial or negotiating a settlement depends on too many factors to calculate accurately. So, we will never be able to tell anyone precisely how things will end.

However, we understand that clients in unpaid wage cases want to know what they should expect to go through when they sue their current or former employee. That is a question we are prepared and happy to answer.

Still, we cannot include every detail here, and your situation may present some unique challenges we have not anticipated. Please contact us online or call Barkan Meizlish, LLP at (614) 221-4221 to schedule a free confidential consultation if you need more information or wish to pursue an unpaid overtime lawsuit.

First, Know Whether You Have Grounds to File an Unpaid Overtime Lawsuit

Under a federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), hourly workers who do not manage other employees and who earn less than $455/week ($35,568/year) are eligible to earn overtime pay. The legally mandated overtime pay rate is 1.5 times the eligible employee’s hourly wage, and overtime starts after an employee has worked 40 hours during a 7-day workweek.

Nearly all employees who traditionally receive tips, such as wait staff and bartenders, are eligible to earn overtime, but are also often eligible to be paid a lower hourly rate. On the other hand, some skilled professionals and salespeople who get paid hourly are not eligible. The rules regarding exemptions from overtime eligibility become pretty complicated pretty quickly. Feel free to ask an unpaid wage attorney if you are unsure whether you meet the criteria for earning overtime.

Consider Talking to Your Coworkers or Former Colleagues

Employers use a variety of tactics to deny overtime pay. A few of the most common are

  • Misclassifying employees as managers or nonemployee independent contractors,
  • Telling employees they must work unpaid overtime in order to keep their jobs,
  • Inappropriately counting tips as a component of hourly pay, and
  • Playing games with comp time in lieu of paying overtime.

Checking with coworkers or the people they used to work with to learn if such problems are occurring will give a worker a sense of whether they have grounds to file an unpaid overtime lawsuit. Also, groups of people who worked for the same employer can join together to take collective legal action against a company that underpaid them. Collective actions can have a great chance of succeeding in court than lawsuits filed by individuals.

Understand That There Will Be a Lot of Paperwork

Proving that an employer violated overtime rules requires collecting and analyzing pay stubs, timesheets, corporate records and internal communications between supervisors and managers. An attorney who has experience in handling unpaid wage cases will know how to compel an employer to share all the necessary information. It will also be helpful for you to gather any documents that have your pay or time information on them and provide them to your attorney as soon as possible.

Do Not Be Surprised if Your Employer Pushes Back

Federal employment regulations call demanding fair pay for all the hours that one works “engaging protected activity.” It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who engages in protected activity, but it is not uncommon.

Data released by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in February 2020 show that retaliation was the number-one complaint the agency received during the previous fiscal year, accounting for nearly 54 percent of the cases. When supervisors and managers harass, insult, demote, or fire an employee who files an unpaid overtime lawsuit, that employee also has the right to file a workplace retaliation lawsuit.

Recognize That the Hassle Can Be Worth It

A worker who wins their unpaid overtime lawsuit receives the payments they were originally denied, interest on the back pay, and other monetary damages. The court may also issue orders for the company to improve its pay practices or face further fines.

I’m Salaried, So I Shouldn’t Get Overtime, Right? Not Necessarily.

Salaried Employees Can Be Either Exempt or Not Exempt

There is a common misconception that “salaried” means “exempt” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) or Ohio wage laws. [1] While many exempt employees are salaried,[2] not all salaried employees are exempt. This results in underpayment for employees who are entitled to at least minimum wages for all hours worked, and overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek.

Overtime for Non-Exempt Employees

Overtime pay is calculated at a rate of one and a half an employee’s “regular rate”. If a non-exempt employee is hourly, then the regular rate is usually their hourly rate. If the non-exempt employee is salaried, the regular rate is their hours worked in a workweek divided by the amount of salary attributed to that workweek. The regular rate should also be used for purposes of calculating such things as non-discretionary bonuses or safety incentive payments.

While a thorough consideration of all the facts may lead to the ultimate conclusion that your are indeed exempt, you should not automatically accept an “exempt” status simply because you are a salaried employee and/or because your employer says so.

Salaried employees whose hourly pay per week ends up being less than the required $7.25/$8.70 should call us at 800-274-5297.[3]  Additionally, employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek but do not receive an overtime can also reach out.  Remember, it is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against you for asking questions about your hours worked and wages paid, exercising your rights under the FLSA and/or Ohio wage and hour laws.

[1] Note that this is not the same “exemption” as used concerning your taxes. See for example Withholding Exemptions – Personal Exemptions – Form W-4

[2] See for example DOL Fact Sheets 17a and 17g.

[3] This post was first published in 2017. The Ohio minimum wage was $8.10 at the time. Updates reflect the 2020 minimum wage in Ohio.

 

(This Notice is for informational purposes. It is not legal advice).

Originally published on June 14th, 2017

Call Center Industry and Wage and Hour Violations

Call Center Employees Affected by Wage Theft

In today’s age of technology and convenience, customer service is often only a phone call or instant message away. With an increasing consumer demand for faster support and quicker turnaround times, it seems that more industries than ever have turned to call centers as a means to provide streamlined service to their customers. Call center employees are essential service providers for customers in need of guidance. Sadly, mistreatment is common.

Unfortunately for Customer Service Representatives (“CSRs”), call centers are one of the most common places for companies to commit wage violations, These violations can be accidental or intentional, depending on the centers management. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), covered nonexempt employees are entitled to receive minimum wage for all hours worked, and overtime compensation at one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek.

Today, numerous call centers across a variety of business channels call central Ohio home, including Teleperformance, Call Management Resources, ContactUS Communications, and Total Quality Logistics all operate facilities in the Columbus area. Nationwide, Verizon, DISH, JPMorgan Chase, and Randstad also operate centers in the surrounding vicinity.

FLSA Violations and Call Centers

When centers expect their employees to perform unpaid “off-the-clock” work, problems arise. This type of work is a direct violation of the FLSA. Call center employees must receive paid for time spent performing everyday duties. These duties include:

  • turning on/off computers
  • logging in to programs
  • making pre- or post-call notes
  • attending work-related meetings
  • working through lunch
  • participating in work-related training

If you work in a call center and are not being properly paid wages you have earned, an attorney can help. You can call for a free consultation at 800-274-5927. You may have a viable claim and we can help you determine the best course of action. The team at Barkan Meizlish, LLP is here to help.

 

originally published on March 13th, 2018

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