You deserve to be paid appropriately, no matter your occupation or industry. Unfortunately, some employers cheat workers out of their wages and overtime pay.
Too many labor law violations are swept under the rug by employers and go unreported by workers who fear retaliation. Here’s what you need to know about minimum wage and overtime in Ohio. If you have further questions or are missing wages, the employment law attorney at Biller & Kimble can help.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, and other employment standards. Most of Ohio’s labor laws match FLSA standards, but there are a few key differences.
Tipped employees in Ohio can be paid 50% of the minimum wage ($4.65 per hour) if the employer meets certain requirements, but that wage plus tips must at least equal $9.30 per hour for the hours worked in a particular workweek. If a tipped worker’s wages and tips don’t meet the state minimum, their employer must make up the difference.
The federal law permits employers to pay tipped employees as little as $2.13 per hour, but they must meet certain specific requirements to do so.
Overtime is the concept that an employee who works more than 40 hours in a particular workweek is entitled to additional money—time and a half their “regular rate”—for hours worked over 40.
Ohio’s overtime laws follow FLSA standards. The vast majority of employees who work over 40 hours in a workweek are entitled to one and one-half times their regular pay rate. These workers are considered “non-exempt” from the overtime requirements of the FLSA.
Some workers are considered exempt from overtime under the FLSA. Overtime-exempt occupations include many executive, administrative, professional, and technology-related roles where employees are paid on a salary or fee basis of at least $684 per week.
Determining whether a worker is exempt or non-exempt is complex question that depends on the work the employee actually performs, NOT the label placed on the employee by the employer. In other words, just because your employer says you are exempt, that does not mean you are exempt, and you might still be entitled to overtime.
Employers may attempt to skirt minimum wage and overtime laws in many ways, such as:
Working “off the clock” means the time you are working is not recorded, and therefore, not paid. Off the clock work arises in a number of situations, such as when an employee is asked to start working before clocking in, asked to complete tasks after they clock out, or are asked to complete work from home (such as responding to emails) when they are not being compensated for the work.
If a coworker or manager clocks you out without your knowledge, your pay is being illegally withheld.
You should be paid in full for all your hours, and you should not be required to clock out until you’re done working.
Employers sometimes avoid paying overtime and wage laws by misclassifying employees as independent contractors, which are not subject to FLSA protections as they are considered distinct from employees.
But, companies sometimes treat workers as “independent contractors” because, in short, it saves the company money. The company does not have to pay as much in FICA taxes, or for unemployment or workers compensation insurance. In addition, because these workers are not protected by the FLSA, the company does not have to pay overtime either.
Just like exempt employees, the actual work performed by the worker is what determines whether they are an “employee” or an “independent contractor,” not the label placed on the relationship by the company. If you are not a small business owner offering the services you are providing to the company to the public in general, chances are you should not be considered an “independent contractor.”
Your employer can take deductions from your wages for certain pre-authorized expenses, such as taxes, healthcare or other benefits, child support, etc.
Some employers also take deductions for other items, such as uniforms, drug testing costs, or tools. These deductions result in a violate of the FLSA when they result in the employee’s total wages for the workweek dropping below minimum wage or overtime.
Improper deduction cases are some of the most common types of unpaid wages cases, as many employers try to pass off as many costs as they can on their workers. For example, Biller & Kimble represents pizza delivery drivers across the country in cases claiming that their employers have improperly deducted from their wages because they do not fully reimburse for the automobile expenses the delivery drivers incur while making deliveries.
Time clocks are not required under the FLSA, but your employer does have to keep records of your wages and hours. Employers might skimp on pay by improperly rounding down the time employees work in their records.
Periods of one to seven minutes can be rounded down to the previous quarter-hour, while periods of eight to 14 minutes must be rounded up and counted as a quarter-hour of work time.
The difference of a few minutes might not sound like much, but it can add up to significant money missing from your paycheck over time.
Many employers deny their workers overtime by simply paying the employee’s “regular rate” for all hours worked, including overtime hours.
Sometimes, this happens to employees who are paid on an hourly basis. When this happens, it is usually an obvious FLSA violation.
But, employees paid on a per-job or “piece rate” are also entitled to be paid time-and-a-half their “regular rate” for overtime hours. While their “regular rate” might change every week, these workers still must be paid a premium when they work over 40 hours.
Restaurants often attempt to divert tips left by customers to help cover company expenses. For example, sometimes companies collect a portion of the workers’ tips and use it to pay other employees’ wages. Other times, the company uses tip money to pay management employees or to pay for supplies or equipment within the restaurant. Any of these examples would be a violation of the FLSA.
Employees can be required to share tips, but only as part of a valid tip pool. A valid tip pool includes only those employees who are engaged in customer service, such as servers, bussers, and runners. It cannot include the company itself, any member of management, or any employee who is not engaged in customer services (such as a cook or a dishwasher).
If you experienced any of the wage and hour violations mentioned, you may be eligible to pursue back pay through a lawsuit against your employer.
Keep in mind that there are strict time limits within which you must assert your claims. For example, FLSA claims must be asserted within either two or three years of the underpayment, depending on whether you are able to prove willfulness. If you believe you are being denied wages, contact an Ohio minimum wage and employment lawyer.
Wage and overtime violations are serious issues for Ohio workers, but you don’t have to go up against your employer alone.
Biller & Kimble, LLC understand Ohio’s minimum wage and overtime laws, having recorded several victories on behalf of clients who were victims of wage theft and overtime violations. Let us help you recover the wages that are rightfully yours.