How Can I File a Wage and Hour Lawsuit in Ohio?

Barkan Meizlish , March 16, 2020

“A fair day’s pay for an honest day’s work,” is such an ancient principle that versions of it appear in the Bible and even earlier writings. The concept was enshrined in U.S law during the 1930s with adoption of the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, which mandates the payment of a minimum wage and eligibility for overtime pay. The general rule for most people is that they earn overtime after they work more 40 hours over the course of a single week.

For nearly 90 years, employers have violated the FLSA. They commit wage theft and refuse to pay overtime in many ways, including

  • Misclassifying employees as independent contractors,
  • Miscategorizing hourly workers as managers,
  • Forcing people to work off the clock,
  • Docking pay excessively for supplies and policy violations,
  • Promising but never authorizing comp time leave instead of paying overtime,
  • Stealing tips,
  • Miscalculating tips as part of the hourly wage, and
  • Telling tipped employees they are not eligible for overtime.

The good news is that the FLSA gives workers the right to report wage theft and unpaid overtime. The process of compelling an employer to hand over back pay and compensatory damages often seems daunting, which is why we make our services available as wage and hour attorneys in Ohio.

Know the Rules

During 2020, Ohio set the minimum wage for the majority of workers at $8.70 per hour. Tipped employees could legally be paid $4.35 per hour as long as their tips ensured they averaged a pay rate of at least $8.70 per hour. If the tips come in short, the employer must make up the difference.

Individuals who work for U.S. government agencies in Ohio are guaranteed only the federal minimum wage of $7.25. At all types of employers, people who get paid by the hour and earn less than $455 per week can earn overtime at a rate that starts at 1.5 times their usual hourly pay.

Exemptions apply to eligibility for the Ohio and federal wage and overtime rules, however. For instance, managers and independent contractors do not have rights to demand the minimum wage or overtime. Speaking with an employee rights attorney when an employer says you are not covered by the FLSA can help clarify your situation.

Keep Track and Ask Coworkers

Rules put in place for enforcing the FLSA allow workers to ask their managers and supervisors about hours, wages, and overtime. It is also legal for coworkers to talk to each other about what they are being paid and to compare pay stubs. Such discussions among coworkers can identify patterns of wage theft and unpaid overtime that provide grounds for a collective or class action lawsuit.

As employee rights attorneys, we understand that workers may hesitate to exercise these rights to ask about and advocate for fair pay. Retaliation from managers happens far too frequently. The thing to remember is that penalizing, bullying, or firing a worker for raising issues related to wages is also illegal and can serve as the basis for a lawsuit.

Act Fast and Know Where to Report Wage and Hour Violations

The statute of limitations on filing claims for wage theft and unpaid overtime is two years. The clock starts ticking on the day of the last violation. When a claim is filed, all past instances of unfair pay can be part of the complaint.

Individuals who work under the laws of Ohio must contact the Department of Commerce’s Division of Labor and Worker Safety. Federal employees file their complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Division of Wages and Hours.

Working with an Ohio wage and hour attorney can make going through the process and holding an employer accountable easier. The lawyer will know how to prepare and submit paperwork, and also how to obtain the corporate records that are needed as evidence. Gaining access to those records will be particularly important for determining whether it makes sense to pursue a collective or class action lawsuit.

You can schedule an appointment with a Columbus employment attorney at Barkan Meizlish, LLP, by calling (614) 221-4221 or by connecting with us online. The initial consultation is free, and all communications with potential clients are kept strictly confidential.

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