Companies cut corners and take advantage of any opportunity to help their bottom line, even denying their employees a fair living wage. Low wage workers are hit the hardest, especially where large employers deprive susceptible employees of the information necessary to protect their rights. According to Professional Liability Underwriting Society, “federal wage and hour lawsuits filed nationally have increased more than 400% since 2000.”
The attorneys at Tittle & Perlmuter have helped employees in Ohio and nationwide recover fair wages owed to them by wrongdoing employers. We pursue claims under laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Ohio Constitution, and Ohio’s Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act for unpaid overtime and minimum wages, both in individual cases and through class or collective actions. These laws cover such issues as:
- Misclassification of employees as independent contractors
- Misclassification of employees as exempt from overtime pay
- Improper calculation or payment of regular and overtime wage rates
- Improper deductions from salary
- “Off the clock” work requirements
- Improper deduction regarding meal or break periods
- Failure to pay for work travel time
- Failure to provide required breaks
- Not paying wages in a timely fashion
- Improper credit, deductions, or overtime pay for tipped or commissioned employees
Wage and hour collective and class actions can become quite significant in terms of number of affected employees, and often involve some of the largest employers. Recent cases include:
FedEx paid $228 billion to settle a claim that drivers filed against the company. The drivers were found to be misclassified as independent contractors when they actually qualified as employees.
Publix paid $30 million to settle a claim brought by managers and assistant managers claiming they were owed overtime.
Ohio’s Minimum Wage laws mandate that employees working over 40 hours within a seven-day period are entitled to an overtime premium of one and one-half the employee’s regular wage rate for the extra hours. In most cases, Ohio employees must be paid at least semi-monthly, and pay for a given pay period cannot lag more than two weeks beyond when it is earned.
Additionally, while the federal minimum wage is only $7.25 and $2.13 for tipped employees, the minimum wage for Ohio employees is $8.15, or $4.08 for tipped employees. Ohio and federal law require employees be paid at least minimum wage for each hour worked in each pay period. When an employer infringes on your rights to be paid the amount you earned and on time, they are violating the law.
Misclassification of workers is a very common violation of worker’s wage and hour rights. Employers misclassify their employees as independent contractors to save on employment taxes and the cost of benefits. Thus, when a worker is misclassified they can lose out on money directly – through unpaid working time, or less directly – through lack of benefits and higher tax responsibility. An individual’s status as an employee versus independent contractor turns on factors such as:
- The presence of a set work schedule and a specific work location set by the employer;
- The employer’s ability to control the work;
- The right of the worker to accept or decline work assignments;
- Whether the worker is paid an hourly wage or per assignment;
- Whether the tools and machines used for work are provided by the employer or the worker;
- The permanency of the work relationship;
- Whether the worker works for one or multiple employers;
- The degree of skill required of the work; and
- Whether the worker’s job is an integral part of the employer’s business.
Employers often require employees to work without any payment. Time spent at the beginning and end of a shift doing work must be paid, usually even when the activity is preliminary or postliminary to an employee’s usual job duties. Simply put, you are entitled to compensation for any and all hours you worked. It is usually a violation of federal and state wage and hour law if you are asked to “work off-the-clock,” or stay late to finish a task without being paid.
A variety of sales jobs are paid primarily through commissions. Commissioned-based pay arrangements are frequently the cause of minimum wage and overtime pay problems. Employers may only pay commissions to employees when a sale is made, which can result in employees not receiving minimum wages for each pay period.
The employer may fail to pay the overtime premium of “time-and-a-half” to commissioned employees, which is only permitted where (1) the employer is a retail or service establishment, (2) the employee’s regular rate of pay is one and one-half times the minimum wage for every hour worked in a workweek, and (3) more than half the employee’s total earnings in a representative period consist of commissions. All too often, we see careless or greedy employers which have implement policies of refusing to pay commissioned employees overtime. Such policies frequently run afoul of these strict rules, entitling affected employees to compensation.
Improper Deductions from Salary or Refusal of Overtime Pay for Salaried Employees
Many employers believe that they can work their employees to death without extra pay by simply placing the employee on a salary. Fortunately for these overworked folks, salaried employees are protected under federal and state wage and hour law. For instance, while various overtime exemptions are available to employers by paying employees with a salary, salaried employees are often still entitled to overtime pay. If you have a question as to whether your employer is permitted to refuse to pay you overtime by paying you a salary, contact the fair pay and overtime lawyers at Tittle & Perlmuter.
Salaried employees are outright exempt from overtime pay if they (1) are paid at least $455 per week, and (2) are executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, and/or computer sales employees. If both of these factors are not met, the affected employee is entitled to compensation for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
This salary-basis exemption is often abused by employers in one of two contexts. First, the employer may dock the employee’s salary for reasons like lack of work or dissatisfaction with the work product. If the employee is ready, willing and able to work, deductions may not be made for time when work is not available. A salary also may not be docked for perceived poor work product unless as a penalty imposed in good faith for infractions of safety rules of major significance. If improper deductions are taken from a salaried employee’s pay, the employer may lose the benefit of the exemption, entitling affected employees to compensation.
The second context in which this arises is through the misclassification of employees as exempt executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, and/or computer sales employees. Each of job types are legal terms of art, meaning that only those employees which fall strictly under the definition of one of these exempt groups can be denied overtime pay.
Class Action Lawsuits
In many instances, when an employer violates minimum wage and overtime pay laws, it does so to most or all of its employees. A class action lawsuit can be brought when multiple employees experience similar pay violations and bring the case as a single court case.
The Automatic Data Processing (ADP) Research Institute reviewed court data and reported that “90 percent of all state and federal court employment law class actions filed in the U.S. were wage and hour claims.” The data also suggests that more than 70 percent of employers are not fully complying to FLSA regulations.
Contact Tittle & Perlmuter for a Free Case Evaluation Today
We are here to ensure that you receive the wages and benefits that you have earned. Call (216) 308-1522 now or fill out our online contact form. We will respond promptly. We can arrange evening and weekend appointments, and we can come to you.