As an employee, you might not think you have much say when it comes to pay. After all, your employer controls your working conditions and is the one who pays you for work performed. While your employer does not have to pay you a six-figure salary, he or she does have to pay you at least minimum wage.
Under a federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), your employer must pay you at least the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 an hour. If your state also has a minimum wage, then your employer must pay the higher of the two wages. In Ohio, the state minimum wage is $8.30, so employers must pay at least that amount per hour. There are very few exceptions to this rule.
Employers are cutting corners to save money, and this affects employees. Many get paid below minimum wage if they are even paid at all. This may be because employers are not aware of the laws, but this is no excuse. Sometimes companies face cash shortages and must wait for money to come in before employees get paid. Sometimes this is a temporary situation; sometimes it is more permanent, like bankruptcy.
In any case, you have the right to earn income for work performed. If your employer is not paying you at least the minimum wage, it’s important that you understand your rights. Read on to find out the steps you should take.
Let Your Employer Know
Your employer may not even be aware he or she is paying you below minimum wage. Sometimes they do it on purpose. In any case, you should bring the situation to your employer’s attention. Before you file a claim, your first step should be to put the issue in writing. Write a letter to your employer outlining the errors you see in your paycheck. Make sure you include specific details, such as the hourly payment you actually received, and compare it to how much you should be getting per Ohio employment law.
File a Claim
If your employer refuses to change your pay rate or discuss the situation with you, your next step is to file a claim. Each state has departments that handle these types of claims. The Ohio Department of Commerce can investigate your claim. Fill out the form per the instructions and send it to the agency for review. Include as many details as possible. There is no cost for the Department of Commerce to review your case. If your claim is valid, the agency will pursue your employer and help you get the money they owe you. The agency, however, cannot provide legal advice, so if you have specific questions, contact a lawyer.
Go to Court
If the Ohio Department of Commerce has rejected your claim, you still have the option of pursuing your claim privately. You can go to small claims court and seek compensation from your employer. Note that your claim must be for a small amount (under $3,000) to pursue this course of action.
Contact an Attorney
If you believe your employer owes a significant amount of money, you may want to discuss your case with an employment law attorney. An attorney who has experience in this area of law can help you understand your rights and see if your employer engaged in any wage and hour violations.
What to Keep in Mind
With any type of legal claim, you will need evidence. Simply stating that your employer pays below minimum wage is not enough. Before submitting a claim, make sure you have proof, such as pay stubs, emails, employee handbooks and other evidence showing that the employer did not pay you minimum wage.
Do keep in mind that your employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a claim. Your employer legally cannot reduce your pay or fire you. If this happens, contact an employment law attorney immediately.
You should also understand that with any course of action you take, there are no guarantees. You may or may not receive any money, and if you do, the process could take many months. Therefore, the sooner you file a claim, the better.
Contact Our Ohio Employment Law Attorneys Today
Employers have to be aware of wage laws. Being ignorant about laws is no excuse. As an employee, you have the right to receive a fair wage for work performed.
If your employer is refusing to pay minimum wage, seek legal help from the Ohio employment law attorneys at Tittle & Perlmuter. Let our knowledgeable lawyers assess your case and help you understand your rights. To schedule a free case evaluation, call us today at (216) 285-9991 or fill out our online contact form.