Wage & Hour Violation Lawyers in Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland Overtime Pay and Minimum Wage Attorneys
Ohio employees are entitled to be paid for the work that they do. Unfortunately, employers sometimes illegally withhold or fail to pay their employees overtime pay, minimum wage, or other wages that they are owed.
You don’t have to tolerate wage theft by your employer. If your employer has not paid what you believe you are owed, contact the experienced Cleveland unpaid wages attorneys at Bolek Besser Glesius LLC for help.
Representing Ohio Employees in Unpaid Wages Cases
Both Ohio and federal law contain standards for minimum wage and overtime pay owed to employees. The federal law is called the Fair Labor Standards Act, or “FLSA.” Its Ohio counterpart is called the Ohio Minimum Wage Act, or “OMWA.” In general, these wage and hour laws require employers to pay their hourly employees at least the minimum wage, and to pay overtime for most employees at one-and-a-half times the employee’s regular rate.
Not every employer is covered by the FLSA or the OMWA. The FLSA generally does not apply to employers with less than $500,000 in gross annual revenue. Under the OMWA, employers with gross annual revenue below $150,000 are generally not covered either. And just as not all employers are covered by the FLSA and Ohio law, not all employees are protected by these laws. The wage and hour laws contain many “exemptions” that exclude employees in certain types of jobs from protection.
Whether an employer is covered by, or an employee is protected by, the overtime and minimum wage pay laws can be a complicated and technical legal question. Employees who think they might be entitled to unpaid wages should not have to guess about their rights. Instead, they should contact a Cleveland overtime and minimum wage attorney for help.
Helping Cleveland Employees get Paid What They Have Earned
Because the federal and Ohio wage and hour laws are so complicated, both employers and employees often misunderstand their rights and obligations.
One common false assumption is that if an employee is paid a salary, the employee is not entitled to overtime pay. That is not necessarily true. While salaried employees will be exempt in many situations, they are not always. In fact, unless one of the statutory exemptions applies, salaried employees are still protected by the overtime pay laws. For example, secretaries and other administrative assistants are often misclassified as exempt because they receive a salary, and are therefore not paid overtime. Secretaries are rarely exempt however.
Another fairly common example of employers mistakenly assuming employees are exempt involves “store managers” and “assistant managers.” Employers sometimes assume that putting the word “manager” in a job title means an employee is exempt. That is not the case. Ohio and federal wage law look at more than just job titles. Therefore, store managers and assistant managers are owed overtime unless they qualify for an exemption.
It should be noted that there are several exemptions that might apply to salaried employees. Two that tend to apply most often are the “executive” exemption and the “administrative” exemption. The executive exemption applies only if various conditions are met. First, the employee must be paid a salary of at least $455 per week. Second, the employee’s “primary duty” must be managing the business. Third, the employee must regularly direct the work of at least two full-time employees. Finally, the employee must have the authority to hire or fire other employees, or the employee’s suggestions and recommendations as to significant personnel decisions must be given particular weight. The administrative exemption also requires that the employee be paid a salary of at least $455 per week. In addition, it requires that the employee’s “primary duty” be office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer. Lastly, it requires that the employee’s primary duty include the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance. As a general rule of thumb, courts are most concerned with the employees’ primary job duties when determining whether one of these exemptions apply.
Incorrectly treating “employees” as “independent contractors” is another common mistake employers make. Independent contractors are not covered by the FLSA. Telemarketers, package delivery drivers, and cable, telephone, or internet installers are some of the more typical victims of misclassification as independent contractors.
To determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, the Department of Labor evaluates the “economic realities” of the employer’s relationship with the worker, essentially looking at whether the worker is economically dependent on the business of the employer. Among the factors considered are:
- The extent to which the work done is an integral part of the employer’s business;
- Whether the worker’s managerial skills affect his or her opportunity for profit or loss;
- The relative investments in facilities and equipment by the worker and the employer;
- Whether the worker exercises independent business judgment;
- The permanency of the worker’s relationship with the employer;
- The nature and degree of control by the employer over when and how the worker performs the job.
Sometimes, employers violate the wage and hour laws by not paying at all. It is a common misconception that interns need not be paid. To the contrary, for-profit business must generally pay their “unpaid” interns unless the internship satisfies a six-factor test set forth by the Department of Labor. Under that test, an internship may be unpaid only if:
- The internship is similar to training that would be given in an educational environment;
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and,
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
One final misconception worth noting involves failing to properly pay “tipped employees.” A tipped employee is one who customarily and regularly receives more than $30 in tips per month. Sometimes, employers believe that if an employee receives tips, he or she is not entitled to be paid by the hour. However, even if an employee qualifies as a “tipped employee,” the employer must still pay an hourly wage of at least $2.13. If the combination of the employee’s hourly wages and tips does not equal at least the minimum wage, the employer must then make up the difference. Failing to do so is a minimum wage violation.
Because the FLSA and OMWA are so complex, there are too many types of violations and too many exemptions to list here. The ones identified above are just some of the more common ones. If you are an employee in Lake County, Lorain County, Cuyahoga County, Summit County, Medina County, or Geauga County and think you might be owed overtime or minimum wage that you have not received, contact a wage and hour attorney to determine your rights.
Protecting Employees who Report Wage Theft or Unpaid Wage Violations
If an employee complains that his or her employer is violating the FLSA or the OMWA, or otherwise expresses an objection to the employer’s failure to comply with the wage and hour laws, the employer is prohibited from retaliating against the employee. Unlawful retaliation takes many forms, including firing, suspension, demotion, cutting hours, harassment, and other adverse treatment. For a more detailed discussion about protection from retaliation for employees, visit our whistleblower and retaliation page.
If your employer violates the minimum wage and overtime laws, the employer cannot “make it right” by simply paying what you were owed in the first place. Under the FLSA and OMWA, an employer who fails to pay minimum wage may be required to pay up to three times the amount of unpaid wages, in addition to the employee’s attorneys’ fees. If an employer fails to pay overtime, employees can recover up to twice the amount of unpaid overtime (at the time-and-a-half rate), and their attorneys’ fees.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
Whether or not you support your family paycheck-to-paycheck, you are entitled to be paid fairly for the work you do. You do not have to tolerate wage theft that puts you and your family’s future at risk. At Bolek Besser Glesius LLC, we have significant experience helping Cleveland employees in your shoes get justice when they are denied overtime, minimum wage, and other salary and benefits that they are owed. Contact us today for help.