What is Wage Theft?

What is Wage Theft?

Wage Theft is when an employer neglects to pay their employees for all of their time at a fair price. One of the most common instances of wage theft is when an employer pays an employee less than the minimum wage required in that specific area. Additionally, other common forms of wage theft include employees who have their tips stolen, receive pay “under the table” or off the books, employees not paid fair overtime pay, and employees who are forced to work off the clock for any amount of time. These are just a few of the most common examples of wage theft committed in the United States, but any form of shorting an employee’s pay is considered wage theft and is therefore illegal.

If you suspect that your employer is stealing your wages, then you are entitled to compensation, and the unpaid wage attorneys at Barkan Meizlish are here to help you get it. Contact us today for your free consultation and be on your way to recovering your stolen wages.

Wage Theft Statistics

Wage theft is a major problem in the United States and especially in the state of Ohio. It is so common that it has likely happened to you at some point in your life and is nearly guaranteed to have happened to at least one person you know. Approximately $50 billion in wages are stolen by U.S. employers nationwide every year. That number is enough to provide 1.2 million people with employment and pay them $20 per hour. In comparison, the combined robberies, motor vehicle thefts, larcenies, and burglaries added up to less than $14 billion in 2012.  States, along with the Federal Department of Labor, recovered approximately $933 million in stolen wages that same year, less than 2 percent of what was taken from hard-working employees. These statistics show just how damaging wage theft is to the average American household’s quality of life, the economy of Ohio, and the national economy as a whole.

Thankfully, people are fighting the war against wage theft. While we are still a long way from completely eradicating the problem, some states have taken significant action to address the issue and recover those wages that have been stolen from their residents. New York has the strongest anti-wage theft laws in the country and has even passed a Wage Theft Prevention Act to closely monitor employees’ pay through mandatory reporting on behalf of the employer.

State attorney generals in 45 states have recovered $14 million in stolen wages. In addition, private attorneys like those at Barkan Meizlish have recovered $467 million in class-action lawsuits, while the U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $280 million. Unfortunately, this hasn’t even put a dent in the estimated $50 billion stolen from hard-working employees annually, which is why we here at Barkan Meizlish are still fighting hard to prevent wage theft across the state of Ohio.

Ohio Wage Theft

The state of Ohio has ranked second in the nation when it comes to workers reporting wages lower than the minimum wage. Wage theft is a huge problem in Ohio and has detrimental effects on the lives of our friends and neighbors. Not only does wage theft reduce the quality of life of those affected, but it has detrimental effects on our state’s economy. When an employer steals from their employees, they steal from everyone in the state because millions of dollars are unaccounted for, meaning there is less money to allocate for infrastructure, education, and governmental assistance. If you or somebody you know has experienced wage theft in Ohio, you need to contact an experienced wage theft lawyer like those found at Barkan Meizlish.

Columbus Wage Theft Lawyer

Wage theft hurts the national economy as well as the economy of the state of Ohio. Our home was founded by hard-working pioneers, and so we find it truly ironic that so many of the employers in the state are stealing from their employees regularly. You have a duty as a resident of Ohio to report unfair theft of wages in order to uphold a higher standard of living for yourself and your fellow Americans. Here at Barkan Meizlish, we work with employees to help them recover the wages that they have worked for. Contact us today for your free consultation with a professional wage theft lawyer in Ohio and be on your way to recovering what is rightfully yours.

Can You Sue For Emotional Distress Lawsuit Against Employer in Ohio?

Can an Employer Be Sued for Emotional Distress in Ohio?

Work is stressful enough as it is without your superiors intentionally causing you emotional distress through targeted actions. If your employer or managers have taken deliberate action that resulted in you experiencing emotional distress, then you can file an emotional distress lawsuit. However, it is important to note that in the state of Ohio, the classification of a case like this is extremely specific and, as a result, difficult to win. 

If you have sufficient proof that some action by the company’s managers triggered profound shame, fear, embarrassment, depression, or post-traumatic stress, then you may very well be entitled to compensation. Contact the Columbus employee rights attorneys at Barkan Meizlish today to find out if you have a case for an emotional distress lawsuit. The initial consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose.

 

Grounds for Bringing an Emotional Distress Lawsuit Against an Employer

It is important to note that state laws in Ohio make it nearly impossible for employees to sue their employers after work-related accidents induce emotional distress. That is to say, personal injury lawsuits, which often include emotional distress claims, almost never move forward against employers when the plaintiff is an employee unless the emotional distress is caused by another clearly violated law.

Most claims related to an on-the-job injury or illness must be handled through the workers’ compensation program. A workers’ comp claim can include requests for the coverage of treatment for mental and emotional problems that develop as a result of an injury or illness, but the program will not approve a claim for emotional distress specifically. If you have reason to believe you were targeted by an employer or manager and it led to you experiencing emotional distress, then you need to hire an Ohio emotional distress attorney to take your case.

The types of lawsuits against employers that can include claims for emotional distress usually relate to violations of employment laws that prohibit discrimination, harassment, and illegal forms of retaliation. For instance, a worker who brings a wrongful termination lawsuit can include a claim for the emotional distress they suffered while unemployed and struggling financially.

Stress itself cannot support either a workers’ comp claim or a lawsuit against an employer. Lawmakers and courts expect all jobs to be stressful and therefore rule out emotional distress claims in and of themselves without an underlying cause that is in violation of another law. An employer can only be sued when its managers deliberately make a position more stressful than it needs to be in order to harm an employee or to compel the employee to quit.

 

Can I Sue for Emotional Distress?

To succeed in convincing a judge and jury that you suffered emotional distress because of something your employer did, you must present convincing evidence of all the following facts:

  • Your employer acted recklessly or with intent,
  • The action was illegal or extreme and outrageous,
  • The action directly caused your emotional distress, and
  • Your emotional distress was severe.

Proving intent in an emotional distress case can be challenging, but documenting complaints about distressing treatment such as harassment or discrimination will significantly help your case when you decide to take action. Partnering with an experienced and understanding employee rights attorney like those at Barkan Meizlish will help you cite which laws were violated and make a case for actions well beyond ordinary teasing or everyday stressors.

You can use medical records, insurance claims, pharmacy bills, and therapists’ notes to demonstrate the connection between the action and your emotional distress. In addition, this information can also be used in determining the severity of the emotional distress caused by your employer.

Finally, to secure a jury award, you must be able to show that your employer knew about the issue that was causing emotional distress and either caused the issue or did nothing to resolve it. Internal records of meetings and emails can be essential forms of proof in this regard and should always be documented for use in your emotional distress lawsuit.

 

Columbus Emotional Distress Attorney

Here at Barkan Meizlish DeRose Cox, LLP, our attorneys specialize in employee rights laws which means we are always on your side. We provide the assistance you deserve and can determine whether or not you have a valid emotional distress case upon your initial consultation, which is always free of charge. Contact the Columbus employee rights attorneys at Barkan Meizlish today to determine if you have a case and to get the compensation you deserve.

From the Barkan Meizlish DeRose Cox, LLP Archives: Letter to the Editor

Stop the medical errors, and you stop the lawsuits

March 3, 2012 | Columbus Dispatch, The (OH)
Page: 9A | Section: Editorial & Comment | Column: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
437 Words

With regard to the Feb. 20 article “Doctors go on the defensive with tests,” I offer the following comments that hopefully reflect the other side of the debate.

The article described a practice among some doctors who allege they order unnecessary tests as a hedge against potential medical-malpractice claims.

There is a crisis in medicine: medical errors, and errors ought to be the primary concern of the medical community, not the declining number of lawsuits against hospitals and doctors when those preventable errors occur.

Rather than asking how we can further reduce the number of lawsuits and limit accountability, which was done legislatively in the early 2000s (the number of lawsuits in Ohio has declined every year since), we should be considering how we can improve the quality of medical care in this state and reduce the staggeringly high rate of medical errors.

According to the Institute of Medicine, 98,000 people die annually because of medical errors. That’s the equivalent of two 737 airplanes crashing every day for a whole year.

Health Affairs magazine reported last year that one in three patients in a hospital is the victim of medical errors. Why aren’t we talking about these horrifying statistics and the ways to solve the problem?

Wouldn’t Ohioans be better served by working to find solutions to this rampant problem rather than trying to reduce overall accountability when those errors occur?

We also question the veracity of the self-reports where doctors claim to order unnecessary tests. The law does not require doctors to order any tests.

Instead, a doctor need only act reasonably in the care and treatment of the patient, and if it is reasonable to not order certain tests, the doctor cannot be held liable.

Second, many tests, particularly invasive tests, come with inherent risks. It is inconceivable that a caring doctor would intentionally subject a patient to such a test simply for selfish reasons.

Third, in Ohio, a doctor cannot be sued at all unless another physician in the same specialty has executed an affidavit under oath stating the treating doctor acted unreasonably. So, it is doctors who determine whether a treating doctor can be sued, not the patient or the patient’s lawyer.

Such a physician surely could determine whether a test was necessary or not. The law already has been changed many times to discourage patients from filing claims.

Additionally, if we can raise Ohio’s standard for the quality of care, the few remaining lawsuits due to medical malpractice will naturally fall. If, however, we simply reduce the ability of average citizens to seek justice through our courts, we are turning a blind eye to the real problem.

BOB DeROSE

Seasonal Businesses and the FLSA

Seasonal Businesses and the FLSA

In response to the effect of COVID-19 on seasonal businesses, the U.S. Department of Labor will issue a temporary reprieve to these seasonal businesses against the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime violations. Many of these businesses were forced to adapt their day-to-day operations because of the pandemic. Resultingly, many seasonal businesses were made ineligible for the seasonal exemption due to these necessary adaptations.

Changes due to the Pandemic

Businesses that have had to change their operations due to the pandemic are, according to a Law360 article, “those business that are only open for seven months a year or less or whose income fluctuates dramatically at different points in the year.” Such seasonal businesses include amusement parks, golf courses, stadiums, and camps, whose ability to remain open and offer services is highly dependent on the weather and/or (especially for camps) the summer term of the school year. Again, these businesses will benefit from non-enforcement of FLSA minimum wage and overtime violations that may even continue into 2021 should the pandemic, and its dampening economic effect, persist.

 

Companies that have had to adopt alternatives to their usual operations will be those benefited by the non-enforcement of such FLSA claims for the time being. However, with the benefit of this non-enforcement, a few factors must be met for it to apply to a seasonal business.

Factors to Consider

In order to enjoy the advantages the DOL is offering, businesses must have either been an exempt seasonal operation before 2020 or one that had already implemented plans to become an exempt seasonal operation before the start of that year. Additionally, the businesses must put in place a plan to resume regular business in 2021 while maintaining their pre-pandemic wages.

 

All of these changes have been implemented by the DOL in an effort to mitigate the harsh impact that the pandemic has had on businesses, mainly seasonal ones. With the implementation of the non-enforcement of such claims for the time being, the DOL hopes to ease the burden that such employers have had to face until the levels of such operations can adjust to their normal, pre-pandemic positions.

 

– Jacob Mikalov for Barkan Meizlish DeRose Cox, LLP

Uber Eats and the Pandemic Economy

Uber Eats and the Pandemic Economy

Armin Samii, a computer programmer who has been working part-time for Uber Eats, claims to have found evidence that the food delivery service has been routinely underpaying its drivers. Uber Eats’ policy is to pay its delivery works on a per-mile basis. This is the standard within the food delivery industry. However, according to a Google Chrome extension, “UberCheats,” built by Samii, Uber has allegedly been regularly shorting its delivery workers on 25-30% of trips, according to Salon.

Samii created this extension after an experience he had with Uber in which the food delivery company admitted to him that, because of a bug on Uber Eats’ end, he was not properly paid for his full delivery. Samii collected data from around 160 Uber Eats drivers through his extension. Through this, he estimates that Uber has underpaid workers on approximately 21% of trips, per Business Insider. To this end, Samii’s data shows that Uber Eats’ delivery drivers are being underpaid by an average of 1.3 miles on those approximately 21% of trips. This finding of routine underpayment by Uber, as well as Uber’s own admission that a bug does, in fact, exist within the delivery tracking method, is potentially disconcerting to Uber eats’ delivery drivers across the country.

What Changed?

Amid a global pandemic, the need for has become apparent to many. The potential that such automation is shorting employee wages on a regular basis is worrisome and harmful as our economy continues to grow and change. In recent months, more people have begun to rely on food delivery services to avoid  exposure to illness, increasing the demand for delivery drivers in the food service industry. Competition has increase as the food delivery industry has become more crowded and ever more necessary. No worker, including the gig workers we have become reliant on during the pandemic, should fear that their employer is intentionally paying them less than they are owed. The increased competition and demand for delivery service is an additional stressor, and improper payment for services is detrimental to the livelihood of this workforce.

 

-Jacob Mikalov for Barkan Meizlish DeRose Cox, LLP

FMLA Form Updates 2020: Employee Need to Know

2020 FMLA Form Updates

The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently issued several updated forms for implementing the Family and Medical Leave Act. These forms were issued with the stated purpose of assisting employees, employers and other stakeholders with completing implementation of the FMLA in the workplace. The FMLA entitles eligible employees up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid leave for various specified health or care of family reasons. The ultimate goal of this update is to enhance user and employer ease, comprehension, and completion of the forms.

What Are The Forms?

The updated forms provide additional questions for the user to answer and provide additional information, while retaining the substance of the forms. An overview of the updates to the forms follows:

  • Incorporation of the Notice of Eligibility and the Notice of Employees Rights and Responsibilities under the FMLA into one form, aiding employees’ knowledge of their eligibility status and privileges and duties during FMLA leave.
  • The FMLA Designation Notice, an important form that allows employees to know whether their leave will fall under the reach of an FMLA designated leave.
  • Changes to the Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition form. This form now requires a more detailed description from the health care provider regarding the employee’s limits as a result of a sick family member, making it less likely employees will have to provide supplements to the information provided. Changes to the Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition form. This form requires a more detailed description from the health care provider regarding the employee’s work-limitations. This makes it easier for employers to understand the limitations of the employee where there are limitations, and less likely employees will have to provide supplemental information.

The Department of Labor has deemed these forms to be compliant with the FMLA. However, employees should be aware that the use of these model forms is optional, and employers are free to use their own forms, so long as they too are in compliance with the FMLA. These forms are located on Department of Labor’s website.

Have questions about whether your employer is properly implementing the FMLA? Give us a call for a free consultation.

 

– Jacob Mikalov

Changes to House Bill 81 in September 2020

House Bill 81 Changes Announced in Ohio

On June 16, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine signed into effect a new law. The ripple effects of the passage of this law will affect Ohioans seeking to claim Workers’ Compensation. The changes set out by House Bill 81 will go into effect on September 14, 2020.

The bills set out number of changes. Firstly, the bill codifies the voluntary abandonment doctrine. Under the voluntary abandonment doctrine, an employee who abandons employment for reasons unrelated to the work injury is not entitled to temporary total disability compensation or wage loss compensation. Additionally, House Bill 81 states that employers may no longer deny or withdraw consent to a workers’ compensation settlement application if the claim is outside of the period in which the employer’s Bureau of Worker’s Compensation rates are affected by the application, and if the employee is no longer employed by the employer.

Changes to the Standard

The standard for employees filing applications for additional awards due to a safety violation has changed as well. Applications for awards due to safety requirement violations must now be filed within one year after the date of the injury or disability. Previously, that standard was two years. Another specific section of the bill states that employees working in detention facilities, including corrections officers, are now covered by their employers for post-exposure medical diagnostic services. These are services that become necessary as a result of contact with blood or other bodily fluid, drugs or other chemical substance, and/or responding to an inherently dangerous situation while working. The bill also states that if an employee dies as a result of a workplace injury or occupational disease, the employee’s estate is entitled to $7,500.00 in funeral expenses. This is an increase from the previously allowed $5,000.00.

It’s noteworthy that these changes came on amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and likely are influenced by these events. The new coverage of employees working in detention facilities may be a response to the pandemic. Employers are now required to cover medical diagnostic services for illnesses that result for exposure to bodily fluid. COVID-19 is transmitted through bodily fluid- airborne droplet transmission- and the Ohio incarceration system has been surging with cases.

What Can I Do?

If you have questions, attorneys with Barkan Meizlish DeRose Cox, LLP, are available to help with Ohio workers’ compensation and personal injury cases in Columbus and across the state. You can schedule a free consultation online of speak with a lawyer directly by calling (614) 221-4221.

Severance Agreements and COVID-19

Severance Agreements Changes to Combat COVID-19 Related Economic Loss

In the era of COVID-19, many employers are attempting to lower their bottom line. Many employers turn to measures affecting workers, such as buying out employees close to retirement, mass lay-offs, and the issuance of severance agreements among all levels of companies.

What You Need To Know about Severance Agreement

Although workers often feel powerless during the discussions of a severance agreement with an employer, it is important to realize that often the employer is asking for something from the worker in return for the agreement. This makes it reasonable for the employee to attempt negotiation. Employers often want to ensure that they limit their future liability for lawsuits and other claims. This necessitates that most severance agreement to contain a waiver of such claims by the employee. While certainly the employer has the ultimate power- as a severance agreement is not legally required to terminate employment in an at-will employment setting- employees can also exert some power to negotiate based on their willingness to release potential current and future claims against the employer.

Another factor to consider is whether you will be subject to a Non-Compete Agreement upon the end of your employment. Non-Compete Agreements are typically upheld in Ohio and can be difficult to navigate when searching for your next position. This can often be a sticking point in negotiations of a severance package and can have broad implications for your future job search.

How We Can Help

The employers have attorneys on their side and you should too. Assistance in reviewing and negotiation your severance agreement can be incredibly helpful in protecting your future. Clarity on your responsibilities and on any potential non-compete issues is crucial. An attorney’s review can lead to additional items or an increase of the payment or other terms. Speaking with an attorney gives you the opportunity to discuss what is most important in the negotiation, and to make those goals a priority. Our office offers flat-fee severance review and advice to anyone facing a severance package. Contact us at 614-221-4221 for more information.

Jessica Doogan

New Ruling for DACA Recipients

Updates for DACA Recipients in 2020

On June 18, 2020, another long-awaited Supreme Court ruling regarding the status of those participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was decided. The decision was made up of a variety of different elements including holding that the Trump administration did not properly terminate the existing DACA program, that DACA program as of the decision will be completely restored as it existed prior to the rescission in 2017, and, most importantly, that current DACA recipients will continue to be protected from deportation and have their employment authorized. Also, new DACA applicants will be able to apply for deportation protection and employment authorization as soon as the DHS implements the Supreme Court decision.

The much-deliberated DACA recipients are undocumented individuals that were brought into the United States as children under 16. Individuals that qualify for the program receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and will become eligible for a work permit. To qualify for the program, recipients cannot have felonies or serious misdemeanors on their criminal records as well as must have completed certain educational requirements. It should be noted that individuals in the program don’t necessarily receive citizenship status through participation in DACA, just the deferral of deportation actions.

The program was started in 2012 under President Obama amidst an elevated amount of undocumented high school graduates in the US. Presently, approximately 700,000 people nationwide are participants in the DACA program and 3,880 of them live in Ohio alone. The Supreme Court decision regarding the program arose from President Trump attempting to completely rescind the program through an Executive Order in September of 2017.

The 5-4 decision comes as good news for some employers as they can continue to legally employ DACA recipients. However, DACA participants should note that they need to file timely applications to renew their protections.  The decision still raises some questions. The Supreme Court did not discuss or decide on the general legality of DACA.  Because of this, the decision essentially reads as saying that DACA participants are safe in the United States “for now” and leaves open the possibly for another decision to change the status of the DACA program and its participants in the future.

 

– Audrey Bidwell

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