unpaid overtime

Employee Payment for Rest and Meal Periods under Ohio and Federal Law

As an initial matter, it may come as a surprise that Federal and Ohio law generally do not require employers to provide rest or meal breaks to employees. One exception is Ohio Revised Code § 4109.07(C), which provides that minors must be allowed a rest period of at least thirty minutes for a shift of more than five hours.

Nonetheless, many employers allow or require employees to take rest or meal breaks, either paid or unpaid. Breaks are important for employee morale, and provide the required sustenance and physical respite to make it through the workday.

Unpaid Meal Periods under Ohio Wage Law and the Federal FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act)

Employees must be paid for all meal periods that are not “bona fide”. Bona fide meal periods are breaks during which employees are completely relieved from duty for the purpose of eating a meal.

unpaid overtime wages rest periods meal breaks

Employees must actually be relieved from duty if an employer doesn’t pay for meal periods – Workers generally must be paid if they are required to eat at their desk or machine, answer phones, respond to work-related inquiries or emails, or engage in any other duties.

Damages can add up even over short periods of time when employers don’t properly pay for non-bonafide meal periods.

For example, if an employer requires a worker to be at work 8 ½ hours each weekday with an unpaid ½ hour lunch period, but the employee works through lunch, the employee is entitled to 2 ½ hours of unpaid time at the end of the workweek (½ hour x 5 days). Since the employee worked 42 ½ hours during the workweek, and Ohio and Federal Law require workers to be paid time-and-a-half for all hours over 40 hours, there is an unpaid overtime violation.

Unpaid Rest Periods under Ohio Wage Law and the FLSA

Rest periods of 5 to 20 minutes are common in industry, promote efficiency, and generally should be paid as working time. If an employer does not pay workers for taking short breaks for things such as coffee or eating snacks, or to use the bathroom, the employer may be violating Ohio and Federal law entitling the employee to back pay, liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees.

This all being said, it is important to note that Federal law only allows recovery of unpaid overtime for a period of up to 3 years in the case of willful violations, and 2 years for non-willful violations. Therefore, it is important for employees to exercise their rights to be paid properly promptly.

If you have not been paid for all time worked McDermott Law LLC may be able to help. Feel free to call (216) 367-9181 for a Free Consultation and to discuss your options with a Licensed Attorney.

The Manager Exemption to Overtime and Minimum Wage from an Employee's Perspective.

Employers are generally required to pay employees minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 hours each workweek pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (the “FLSA”). Overtime is defined as one and one-half times the regular rate of the employee’s pay.

However, the FLSA provides certain exemptions to the minimum wage and overtime requirements, including under what is known as the executive employee exemption. This exemption is sometimes called the manager, or management exemption, although it applies to more job titles/categories than just managers.

overtime employees

Ohio and Federal law do not permit an employer to fail to pay minimum wage and overtime just because the employer calls certain employees managers or supervisors. This is especially true when the “manager” has no actual control of the employees they supervise, spends the vast majority of their time performing manual labor, or has little or no control over who is working under them – such as no actual ability to supervise, discipline and/or terminate workers. If all decisions of the “manager” (or “assistant manager”) come from above, the employee may be misclassified and entitled to overtime and minimum wage. The manager must also direct the work of at least two or more other full-time employees, or their equivalent (such as four part-time employees).

It is also common for employers to pay “managers” an hourly rate but with no overtime. This violates the FLSA, because the employee must be paid on a “salary basis” of not less than $455 per week.  A “salary basis” means that the employee must receive a predetermined amount each pay period, and this amount cannot be reduced because of variations in quantity or quality of work. If the employer makes deductions from the “salary” for absences less than a day then the employee may be misclassified and entitled to overtime compensation and minimum wage.

In sum, under the FLSA, in order for an employee to qualify as an executive employee, the employee must:

(1) be compensated on a salary basis at a rate not less than $455 per week; (2) customarily and regularly direct the work of at least two or more other full-time employees; (3) have a primary duty of managing the enterprise (or a recognized department or subdivision thereof); (4) have authority over the employees he/she supervises, such as selecting and terminating employees, or the executive’s suggestions are given particular weight.

If an employee does not meet each of these requirements, the employee may be misclassified and entitled to unpaid back pay, liquidated damages, costs and attorney fees.

If you have not been paid for all time worked Attorney Kevin M. McDermott II can help. Feel free to call McDermott Law LLC at (216) 367-9181 for a Free Consultation and to discuss your options.

The Wrongs of Working off the Clock

Let us start by saying that common sense and our universal understanding morality tell us that people deserve to be paid what they earn. Forcing someone to work for free or for a subminimum wage not only goes against Congress’s directive but a civilized society’s understanding of what is right and wrong. In the employment context, however, it is far too common for employers to deny employees all wages for all hours worked. This can occur because of an employer’s simple oversight on one end to on the other an employer's willful scheme to deprive workers wages to increase the bottom line. An employer’s unlawful failure to pay for time worked can take many forms, including:

unpaid overtime clock
  • Forcing employees to answer phone calls after hours without compensation;
  • Refusing to pay employees for travel time when the destination is greater than the time it takes to get to the usual place of work or refusing to pay for travel time during the workday;
  • Requiring employees to arrive at work before the shift starting time. For example, where an employer requires employees to arrive at the workplace 15 minutes before the scheduled start time without pay;
  • Failing to pay employees for the time it takes to suit up a uniform in some circumstances;
  • Making paycheck deductions automatically for lunch breaks even though the employee does not always take a break or works through the lunch break;
  • Rounding employee start times and end times predominantly to the employer’s benefit;
  • Making seemingly random deductions to paychecks;
  • A policy of reducing wages or refusing to pay for employees to attend mandatory meetings or voluntary meetings that ultimately benefit the employer.

The examples above are only a few cases where employees have successfully sued and got back their wrongfully withheld wages. Ohio and Federal Law affords employees the right to recover unpaid wages and in some cases an additional one or two times unpaid wages. Furthermore, in many cases employees are entitled to attorney’s fees and the costs to bring an unpaid wage claim, including in cases involving unpaid overtime compensation and where the employer fails to pay minimum wage for all hours worked.

If you have not been paid for all time worked Attorney Kevin M. McDermott II can help. Call McDermott Law LLC at (216) 367-9181 for a Free Consultation and to discuss your options.