There seems to be a business of wage theft in Ohio, given how common unpaid wages are in the state. Learn all about it, what the law says, and your legal options.
Millions of Ohio residents and American workers have to get by on low wages, with the minimum wage of $8.70 per hour being barely enough to pay for their basic needs. In addition, some salaried employees barely have enough to fall back on as pension, have no work benefits like sick leave or health insurance. The preceding is compounded by the fact that employers fail to pay them after performing their job duty.
Aside from salaries, employers fail to pay overtime premiums. All these amounts to outstanding wages and defaulting employers are said to be committing unpaid wage violations. This article looks at how common unpaid wages are in Ohio and if you can get compensation for salary lost.
If you have an unpaid wages complaint against your employer, an unpaid wage attorney at Babin Law, LLC, can represent you. Our lawyers have extensive experience handling wage and hour class actions on behalf of thousands of workers across Ohio and the United States. So, contact us as soon as you discover there's a problem with the payment of wages in your company.
What Are Unpaid Wages?
In Ohio, the law mandates employers to pay non-exempt employees wages worked before and after their shifts. The two amounts to base salary and overtime rate for actual work duties. These employees are also entitled to get paid for work done during their allotted rest breaks. It means if you spend your lunch break working, you can get overtime compensation for overtime hours.
Under the Federal Labor Law, employers have to pay non-exempt employees an overtime rate of at least one-and-one-half times their regulated rate per hour. The preceding applies when you work beyond 40 hours per week. Note that non-exempt employees are those entitled to receive the Ohio hourly rate (minimum wage).
Unpaid wages, therefore, are monies owed to hourly employees who have performed their workplace duties pre-shift, post-shift, and during lunch breaks. Outstanding wages most times amount to willful violations of hour laws. Ohio employment lawyers at Babin Law, LLC, can help you hold your employer accountable or commence the unpaid wage claims process.
How Common Are Unpaid Wages in Ohio?
Whether you are a sales employee, an administrative employee, or a contract worker, you deserve to get paid for the work done. When employers fail to pay either the regular rate or overtime wages, it becomes wage theft. The latter is a crime, and an unpaid overtime lawyer can help you get justice.
In Ohio, unpaid wages or wage theft is quite common. According to a 2019 report, about 217,000 times yearly, an Ohio employer pays a salaried worker less than the state or federal minimum wage. These common violations alone cost workers on a salary basis an estimated $600,000.
Some examples of these violations are:
- Paying less than the minimum wage
- Not paying overtime for hours worked
- Violating prevailing wage laws on public construction projects
- Confiscating tips from the restaurants’ wait staff
- Misclassifying regular employees as self-employed independent contractors
- Forcing employees to work off-the-clock before and after their actual job duties
- Denying workers legal meal breaks
The prevalence of this problem comes from the fact that there is no criminal punishment for employers who fail to pay their workers. Although theft of $2,800 warrants a 12 months prison term, the law is not enforceable. Most times, employers who fail to pay the minimum salary only have to return a part of the money to the employee.
Furthermore, employers get away with unpaid wages because employees are scared to speak out against business owners. Aside from personal reasons, employees fear retaliation, which mainly manifests in them getting fired. Another factor is the fact that most workers are unaware of their legal options.
Note that no matter the type of worker you are or your employment status, no employer has the right to withhold your pay. Therefore, the onus is on you to take affirmative action in demanding your compensation. What's crucial here is that the more employees speak out against unpaid wages, the higher the chances of reducing unpaid wages or wage theft.
How Many Hours Can You Legally Work in a Day in Ohio?
Like most regions in the United States, Ohio takes its labor laws from the federal labor law. The primary federal regulation governing the length of shifts, break period, or break times is the Federal Labor Standards Act of 1938. The FLSA covers employees who are 16-year-old and can work up to 12-hour shifts. The legislation also caps work time at a 40-hour workweek in a calendar week.
Ohio follows the FLSA requirements, abiding with the workweek method. However, depending on the industry where you work, the FLSA rules might not apply to you. For example, a 40-hour workweek means that you work 8 hours a day for five days. But some jobs require you to work 12 hours per day.
The preceding is common for contractor workers and those who work shifts. If you work 24 hours or longer, you must get paid for sleep or meal breaks. Depending on the job terms, you could also get per diem payments. Note that you could get compensation if you don't have a bona fide meal period. It refers to a 30-minute meal period where you can sit and enjoy a meal.
During that time, you should not perform any business operations. Note that the only time you don't get paid is when you waive this right. Furthermore, your employer might determine how long you'll work and you can accept it or choose not to if you are in at-will employment.
The one thing to always keep in mind is that you should get paid as long as you fulfilled or performed your actual work duties. If your employer fails to pay you, contact an unpaid overtime attorney immediately.
How Long Can an Employer Not Pay You?
Ohio has a different timeline and laws for salary payment. For example, some workers can get paid in cash, get paid holidays, or sick time salary. In Ohio, the private sector employees can get their salaries weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, or monthly. Therefore, different types of workers get paid at separate times.
For example, a farm labor contractor and a call center employee might get paid at different times. While the former might receive their salary weekly, the latter might get theirs monthly. So, generally, your employer cannot and should not withhold your paycheck longer than the due date. This rule applies to your regular rate and overtime hours.
Can Your Employer Refuse to Pay You?
Under Ohio labor laws, an employer cannot refuse to pay the regular rate or overtime hours for actual work done. Failure to pay is a violation of labor laws, your employment contract, and overtime laws. However, there are times when your employer would be justified in refusing to release your paycheck.
One such instance is when you did not complete the number of hours you are supposed to work. For example, if you are to work for 40 hours and only work for 30, your employer will pay you for only the hours worked. Note that your employer cannot refuse to pay you if you quit your job or fire you.
Most employment types demand two weeks’ notice before an employee can leave a job. Within that time, your employer is to put together your salary, including any unpaid overtime wages. Then, they are to hand over your paycheck regardless of whether you quit or not. If they fail, you can bring an action for damages against the employer.
What Does Ohio Law Say About Wages?
Under Ohio Revised Code Section 4113.15, employers "shall on or before the first day of each month pay all its employees the wages earned by them during the first half of the preceding month ending with the fifteenth day thereof, and shall, on or before the fifteenth day of each month, pay such employees the wages earned by them during the last half of the preceding calendar month."
If the employer fails to pay the salary more than 30 days beyond the regular payday, the employee has even greater rights. You can get an experienced attorney to file a claim for liquidated damages against the employer in such an instance. It means that you will not only get the unpaid salary. You will get 6% of the outstanding amount or $200. The law stipulates that you get whichever amount is more significant. Ohio overtime lawyers can help you secure the compensation you deserve.
What Are My Rights if My Employer Doesn't Pay Me?
When you perform all your primary duties, and your employer still withholds your payment, there are three legal options available to you.
Report to Your Employer
The first thing you need to do is raise the issue internally. To do this, report to the human resource department or the accounts officer, depending on who has the authority to resolve the issue. If, after making a report, you don't get your outstanding wages, contact an unpaid overtime lawyer. The attorney would advise you whether to file a complaint with the Ohio Department of Commerce or pursue a civil action. Note that your claim will come before the U.S. Department of Labor's Division of Wages and Hours if you are a federal employee.
Pursue a State Agency Claim
The second option available to you is filing a claim with the Department of Commerce Division of Industrial Compliance and Labor Bureau of Wage and Hour Administration. When filing the minimum wage complaint form, you have to provide your personal information, along with data on your work history and employer. You can also add a notice of demand for the work hours unpaid for, time stamps, dishonored checks, and pay stubs.
Pursue a Private Course of Action
If you choose not to pursue a state agency claim, you can commence a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction. At this point, you must hire an unpaid wage attorney. Ohio overtime lawyers will assess the facts you present before them and let you know if your case stands a chance of succeeding.
Is There a Time Limit on Claiming Unpaid Wages?
Every state has a Statute of Limitations for when action must commence and end. For example, in Ohio, claims for unpaid wages must begin within two years from the date of the last violation. Once you file the claim, you can include all past instances of outstanding salary. However, if the time elapses and you don't file a claim, you will be statute-barred. This is why you should always be in contact with an experienced overtime lawyer. A lawyer knows all about the limitation rules and will guide you on the proper steps to take.
Reach Out to Our Ohio Unpaid Wages Lawyers
Employers always have an expert legal team at their beck and call. So, going up alone against them would mean you will either get nothing or very little. Our unpaid overtime compensation lawyers have handled several class action lawsuits on this subject matter. Call Babin Law today to see if we will be able to assist with your case.