American employees are regularly victims of labor violations that unfairly cheat them out of earned wages. The most vulnerable employees are those in low-wage positions, and generally with little management leverage. With the help of a wage and hour lawyer, you may be able to join a class action lawsuit and recover wages for unpaid work, unpaid overtime and off-the-clock work.
One day or a week of missed overtime pay does not amount to much, but over years and with several thousand employees, some companies try to cut labor costs at the expense of workers and staff.
Class action wage and hour cases can result in large settlements or verdicts, and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) estimates wage and hour settlements since January 2007 have totaled over $3.5 billion.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati, Ohio wage and hour lawyer and Fair Labor Attorney representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of fair labor violations and workplace claims.
Wage and Hour Violations
Wage and hour cases usually involve multiple labor violation allegations. When unscrupulous employers try to cut corners, it is usually not in a single act but in a systematic way that violates the law in many ways.
Any negligent employers can be held liable and Unpaid Wages may be recovered through legal action. Common employer violations include:
Unpaid overtime lawsuits are very common in the current employment cycle, and settlements can compensate workers for their lost wages and instances of blatant wage theft. Perhaps wage theft has been a problem for as long as employers have found ways to cheat workers, but labor laws dictate that employees no longer have to suffer.
Court filings of wage and hour lawsuits have increased dramatically in recent years, a bad sign for employers, and typically a good harbinger for employees. Collective settlements and class action lawsuits have cost employers millions due to negligent corporate practices and illegal wage theft violations.
Ohio does not have one of the strongest wage and hour laws in the country, however your Wage and Hour attorney can hold any employer accountable for labor violations.
The Lyon Firm takes cases based on allegations of employee misclassification, independent contractor misclassification, unpaid work, improper calculation of the regular pay rate and overtime pay, minimum wage violations, missed meal and rest breaks, donning and doffing time, and other types of wage theft lawsuits.
In a recent Ohio case example of unpaid overtime lawsuits, Fuyao, a large Dayton, Ohio manufacturer, was sued by 636 current and former workers for unfair labor violations.
The company settled recently with the workers. The original plaintiff filed a lawsuit after she allegedly worked overtime at Fuyao without being paid a time-and-a-half wage. Other labor violation claims noted that workers were not fully relieved of duties during their “breaks.”
Wage Theft Lawsuits
Thousands of workers in Ohio and across the nation are victims of wage theft each year, and are victims of withheld wages or unpaid wages. As a result, employees have sought retribution, and have successfully filed class action wage and hour lawsuits against employers.
When employers go to great lengths to increase profits, they often do so in an unethical and unlawful way. Wage theft is more common than many American workers realize, and wage and hour laws are upheld by courts to protect employees, and compensate them for the loss of hard-earned wages.
Common targets of wage and hour lawsuits in recent years have been retailers, restaurants, construction companies, banks and manufacturers. Any worker who has experienced unpaid wages from their employer may have a case and should contact an experienced employment claims attorney.
Tip Pooling Violations
Workers relying on tips, particularly in the food and beverage industry, have rights under federal and Ohio law. However, sometimes employers in hospitality and service jobs try to take advantage of employees, and violate fair labor law. In tip pooling arrangements, the following must be satisfied:
- Tips are fully redistributed
- The distribution of tips must follow a consistent formula
- Tipped employees cannot be forced to share tips with workers who do not usually receive tips
- Employers cannot pay themselves out of a tip pool
In many workplaces, employers first fail to ensure a proper minimum wage, fail to pay overtime, and pool tips to put money in their own pocket. Tipped employees are urged to learn more about their rights in basic FLSA and Ohio labor law requirements.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay employees at least the federal minimum wage rate, currently $7.25 per hour, or for tipped employees $2.13 per hour. This is standard for many waiters/waitresses, bartenders, and others in the service industry.
One important note: If the low base wage and total employee’s tips do not equal the minimum wage, the employer is required to make up the wage difference. Employers must also inform their employees if they intend to treat tips as part of employer’s minimum wage obligation.
Also, tipped employees who work over 40 hours per week are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of at least one-and-a-half times the standard hourly rate. For workers earning $2.13 per hour should be paid one and half times the minimum wage of $7.25.
Unpaid Overtime Class Actions
The majority of class action wage and hour lawsuits allege that employers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which dictates minimum wage, overtime pay, and prohibits “off-the-clock” work without pay.
Federal and state law requires private employers to pay overtime at 1.5 times (time and a half) the regular hourly rate for all time worked over 40 hours in a “workweek.” A workweek is determined by the start of the employer’s payroll period.
Under state law, private employees covered by collective bargaining agreements or “uncoerced” compensatory time requests can be paid compensatory time in lieu of overtime.
Work actually performed is work that must be paid, regardless of a “no overtime” policy or requirement for prior approval of overtime or work after hours. Employers cannot expect or allow hourly employees to perform unpaid work. An Ohio wage and hour lawyer can help determine what employer violations may be presented to the courts.
In some cases, duties performed “off the clock” are compensable, and may require regular or overtime compensation. Examples may include time spent cleaning up, changing uniforms, preparation or cleaning of equipment, or closing out a cash drawer.
Employers that violate labor law often refuse to pay overtime to entire groups of workers, which makes a class action lawsuit viable. Many workers have filed class action lawsuits with an Ohio wage and hour lawyer, alleging employers withheld tips, did not provide meal and rest breaks, and did not pay properly for promotional work.
Other unpaid wages claims and wage theft lawsuits allege employers fail to pay for time changing into and out of work clothes (doffing and donning), and are forced to stay at the workplace off the clock.
Unpaid Overtime Settlements
- Brinker Restaurant Corp. paid $56.5 million in a case that included 108,000 workers who alleged wage and hour violations.
- The City of Los Angeles paid $26 million to settle a case that included over 1,000 trash truck drivers who alleged meal and rest break violations.
- Walgreen Co. settled a case for $23 million after 40,000 workers alleged they were denied overtime and meal and rest breaks.
- Schneider Logistics Transloading and Distribution Inc. paid $21 million after employees were allegedly denied overtime and minimum wage.
- The San Francisco Giants baseball club paid more than $500,000 in back wages to dozens of clubhouse and administrative workers that had not received minimum wage and overtime pay.
- Farmers Insurance agreed to pay more than $1.5 million in back wages to nearly 3,500 call center employees after federal authorities discovered possible “significant and systemic” violations of overtime and record-keeping rules.