Columbus workers consistently suffer unpaid wages. Learn about the unpaid wages menace in Columbus and learn how a Columbus OH unpaid wages lawyer may be able to help.
When Columbus residents get jobs, they don’t expect to struggle with unpaid wages. Instead, they hope that they will receive the regular rate of payment that their employer agreed to. However, the reverse is often the case for many Columbus workers. Unfortunately, some hostile work environments carry on business operations without regard for Columbus employment laws. So, Columbus employees often have to endure unpaid wages and unpaid overtime.
Moreover, people of color suffer more too. Furthermore, many such workers fall victim to minimum wage violations. Fortunately, there's an unpaid wages claim. Sometimes, all you need is to fill a minimum wage complaint form. For any remedy you choose, having overtime lawyers or unpaid wages attorneys on your side may help get a more favorable outcome in your case. Reach out to Babin Law to see if we can assist you.
What Is Wage Theft?
Wage theft is a menace that’s currently sweeping through America. Many people have heard of it, but only a few correctly understand the concept. Wage theft refers to wrongful withholding of employee wages and other benefits by a business owner. Essentially, wage theft occurs either through underpayment or non-payment of worker’s salaries and wages.
Unfortunately, minorities, people of color, and immigrants are more hit by this issue. Furthermore, low-wage workers and private sector employees are more likely to suffer wage theft.
Common examples of wage theft include:
- Total unpaid wages
- Unpaid overtime wages
- Improper deductions
- Salaries below minimum wage
- Misclassification of employees
- Making employees work “off the clock”
- Withholding special benefits for sick time and travel time
- Wrongful termination without pay
- Forcing employees to submit their tips
How Do I Know I’m a Victim of Wage Theft?
People are very conscious of their finances. So, you’ll think that many employees will quickly spot when their employers pay them below the regular rate. However, figuring out that you’re a victim of wage theft can be pretty challenging. Although, if you know what to look for, you can notice wage theft early. So, you can detect wage theft through the following steps:
- Check if you’re working more than a 40-hour workweek without receiving overtime hours benefits
- Are tipped workers receiving lower pay because of their tips?
- Do you receive less than the minimum wage?
- Is your paycheck later than usual without any explanations?
- Are there any deductions in your regular rate that you can’t explain?
- Did your employer wrongly classify your employment status as an independent contractor instead of a full employee?
If you notice any of the irregularities above, you should report them to your employer. Then, you can call an Ohio unpaid wage attorney to see if they will be able to help. This is because you may need to file an unpaid wages complaint.
What Can You Do if a Company Hasn’t Paid You?
Discovering that your company didn’t pay you on the usual payday can be alarming. With the bills screaming for your attention, you may not know the right thing to do. Any rash decisions or actions at this stage can put you in a bad spot. So, it’s best to step back and think. Federal and Ohio laws allow you to take legal action against your employer. The steps below can help you.
Report the Issue to the Business Owner
The first step after receiving insufficient pay or no pay at all is to inform your employer. This move is crucial because it could either be a processing error or a bank mistake. Fortunately, if the pay below your hourly rate was a mistake, your employer can rectify the issue quickly. However, in some cases, such a request can prove that you’re a victim of wage theft.
File a Claim With the U.S. Department of Labor or Ohio Department of Commerce
The Federal Labor Standards Act established minimum wage requirements in the U.S. However, many states also have their minimum wage and overtime laws. So, where employers don’t pay you the minimum wage for the hours you’ve worked, such actions are labor standards violations. Therefore, you can submit a minimum wage complaint form to the Ohio Department of Commerce, and talk with an investigator.
Conversely, if you’re a federal worker, you can file a complaint with the Wage-Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. The U.S. Department of Labor is the federal agency responsible for enforcing FLSA Rules and FLSA Requirements. However, if your employer paid the federal wage (minimum wage requirements), the U.S. Department of Labor may not help you.
File a Lawsuit Against Your Employer
Finally, if both options above don’t get you the correct wage for hours worked, you can consider going to court. Depending on the size of the improper deductions and your (daily) Diem payments, you can either go to small claims or state court. Once you decide to institute an unpaid wage claim, it's a good idea to consider hiring an employee rights lawyer. An excellent unpaid wages lawyer will work hard to protect you until you get a favorable judgment. Furthermore, if many employees are owed wages, it’ll help if all eligible employees filed their unpaid wages claim as a class action lawsuit.
How Much Compensation Do You Get for Unpaid Wages?
Calculating how much you’ll recover for your unpaid wages can be challenging for laypersons. However, experienced attorneys can quickly evaluate and estimate the value of your claim. There’s no fixed amount of compensation that you’ll receive for unpaid wages. Instead, some factors determine how much you collect. Chief amongst these factors are the various classes of compensation you may be eligible for.
Back pay refers to the exact amount of wages you worked for but your employer withheld. Here, all you need to do is prove the number of hours you agreed to work with your employer. Then, you establish the amount of money the business owner decided to pay you. Finally, you can now calculate the relevant pay period during which your employer withheld your wages.
For instance, imagine that you work for $100 per day, five days a week. If your employer withholds an entire month’s wage, you’ll be eligible to collect about $2000 as back pay.
You can also recover liquidated damages, equal to the same amount you should receive as back pay. So, if your unpaid wages equals $2000, you can get liquidated damages of $2000 too. Therefore, at this point, you may be eligible for $4000 worth of compensation. Furthermore, you can recover actual expenses that you incurred because of the wage denial.
You wouldn’t have needed to consider retaining the services of a Columbus unpaid wages attorney if not for your employer’s actions. So, the business owners often have to bear the costs of legal services and other related issues. Consequently, your recoverable damages will include your lawyer’s fees. You can also claim the costs of filing your claim in court and printing documents. This class of damages is vital because it protects your total wages.
Is There a Time Limit on Claiming Unpaid Wages?
Like most legal claims, you don’t have all the time in the world to file an Ohio unpaid wage claim. Statutes of Limitations specify specific periods within which you must institute your suit. If you don't make an unpaid wages complaint early, you may lose your right to fair compensation and any additional expenses you incur.
Under the Federal Labor Standards Act, you have only two years to file your action for unpaid wages. This time would start to count when you notice the illegal deduction. However, if the violation is repetitive, you have two years from the date of the last violation. Therefore, immediately after you discover a wage deduction, consider reaching out to an experienced attorney. An excellent lawyer may be able to help you institute your legal action early.
An unlawful deduction may not be willful. Where you suffered intentional wage theft, you have three years to file a wage theft lawsuit. You can also recover the total amount of wages you lost. However, the issue would be how to identify willful violations. For instance, an employer willfully withheld your wages where they knew there was a deduction contrary to the law. However, despite this knowledge, they disregarded the law.
A clear example would be where you already notified the business owner of the deductions from your salary. If you inform such an employer while pointing them to the relevant laws and your employment contract, the wage deduction becomes willful when they don’t pay you compensation for the salary lost.
How Can I Avoid Being a Victim of Unpaid Wages?
The economic power of employers is the primary reason for unpaid wages. So, business owners often oppress salaried employees, low-wage workers, and other types of workers by withholding their wages for hours worked. Such common violations are also relatively high in the private sector.
Hence, federal labor laws, minimum wage laws, and other employment laws exist to level the playing field. Moreover, overtime lawyers and Ohio unpaid wage attorneys have protected Columbus employees, armed with wage theft laws for decades. However, a worker can play a significant role in protecting themselves from becoming a victim of wage theft. The tips below can help you.
Know Your Legal Rights
Indeed, any employee who doesn’t know their rights cannot know when their employer breaches such rights. So, knowledge of employee rights is paramount for all Columbus workers. For instance, you need to understand the regular rate for your employment status. Your relevant pay period is also crucial information.
This is because it helps you calculate when you started suffering unpaid wage violations. You should also know whether you deserve overtime wages. For example, do you know that Ohio requires business owners to pay employees who work beyond a 40-hour workweek for overtime?
The first step to protecting yourself against unscrupulous employers is to record every detail of your employment. Relevant information would include your agreed work hours and the regular rate for your labor. Noting the workweek method and how the overtime hours work is also wise.
Furthermore, it would help to document your actual payment in case an issue comes up. For example, reconcile your work hours with how much your employer is paying you. Consistent documentation such as this will help you notice any illegal deductions early. Then you can decide on whether or not you’re calling an unpaid wage attorney.
Joining a union can also protect you against unpaid wage violations. These workers' unions often negotiate fair work terms for their members. Furthermore, such organizations are some of the best places to get free education on Columbus employment laws and wage theft laws. Moreover, unions often retain the services of Ohio unpaid wage lawyers for advice. Finally, experienced members may know a business for wage theft. In such cases, they can warn employees to protect themselves from becoming a victim of wage theft.
Columbus, Ohio Unpaid Wage Attorneys Want To Help You
Performing your job duty and not receiving your hourly rate and other additional expenses can be painful. Firstly, it causes you financial pain and emotional suffering because that’s oppression. So, it’s excellent news that FLSA Rules and Ohio work hour laws protect Columbus workers from such occurrences.
So, are you a victim of unpaid wages? Is your employer paying you below the state or federal minimum wage? Have they amended your hourly wage or regular rate? Or is it that the business owner doesn’t pay you overtime compensation?
If you answer any of the questions above in the affirmative, you should reach out to an unpaid wages attorney to discuss your situation. At Babin Law Firm, we have experienced employment attorneys for Columbus workers. If we're able to assist with your case, we can help you proceed against your employer and receive a fair wage for your labor, henceforth. So, call our wage and hour attorneys for a consultation on your case.