Under both Ohio and federal law, workers are entitled to a fair wage — and all the compensation they’ve earned. Unfortunately, wage and hour violations happen all too often in the workplace. While there are many types of these violations, some are more common than others. For instance, an employer may try to avoid paying minimum wage or require you to perform your job-related tasks off the clock. It’s important to understand the types of wage violations that can occur and what your legal recourse is if you’ve been wronged by your employer.
Here are several common wage and hour violations:
Tip violations are among the most common wage and hour violations in the workplace. Not only must tipped employees be paid the minimum wage (unless employers use a tip credit), but employers are prohibited from withholding tips. In addition, if an employer chooses to use a tip pool, it must comply with company policy and the law.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees must be paid for all the time they’ve worked. Many employers keep track of the time employees punch in and out with electronic time clocks, swipe machines, and written timesheets. Critically, it is illegal for an employer to round the time clock in a way that benefits them and harms the employee. Impermissible time clock rounding practices can include using arbitrary rounding increments, editing an employee’s hours, or using different time increments for punch-in and punch-out times. An employee’s start and end times on the clock must be rounded to the nearest 15 minutes or less to satisfy the FLSA’s requirements.
Under state and federal law, employers are required to pay employees overtime if they have worked more than 40 hours within a week. Specifically, employers must be paid 1.5 times their regular hourly pay for overtime hours unless they qualify as an exempt employee by law. There are a number of overtime wage and hour violations an employer may commit — including withholding overtime pay and misclassifying employees as independent contractors to avoid paying it.
Employee misclassification occurs when an employer wrongfully classifies a worker as an independent contractor rather than an employee. They may do this to avoid paying overtime or providing certain employment benefits. Employers may also use this tactic as a way to avoid carrying Workers’ Compensation insurance or complying with their state and federal tax responsibilities. An employee who was misclassified as an independent contractor may be entitled to recover the damages they suffered as a result, including their back pay, liquidated damages, attorneys’ fees, and court costs.
It is illegal for an employer to require an employee to work off the clock under both Ohio law and the FLSA. Examples of working off the clock can include forcing employees to attend meetings outside of working hours, do pre-shift work, or clean up after they’ve punched out. Importantly, employees must be paid for all the time they’ve worked. Employees who have made to work outside their scheduled work time may be owed back wages from their employers.
A common wage and hour violation is failing to pay the minimum wage mandated by law. Minimum wage violations may also occur when an employer requires a worker to pay for the costs of their uniforms, tools, or equipment. Although there are certain exceptions, an employee whose employer failed to compensate them the minimum wage required by law may be entitled to their unpaid wages, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees.
Although an employer doesn’t have to pay for an employee’s commute, they must legally compensate for travel time that is part of an employee’s job function. A common wage and hour violation is failing to pay an employee for their travel to various locations throughout the workday or for travel that requires an overnight stay. Travel time must also be factored in when calculating overtime. In the event an employer fails to pay an employee for their travel time during work hours, the employee may be able to pursue a wage violation claim.
If your employer committed a wage and hour violation, you may be entitled to pursue legal action — and recover the compensation to which you are rightfully entitled. Located in Westlake and offering reliable representation to clients throughout the state of Ohio, employment law attorney Chris Lalak is dedicated to fighting for the rights of workers who have been wronged by their employers and denied the wages they have earned. Contact Lalak LLC today to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation and learn how we can help.