Is It Illegal to Pay Workers Less Than the Minimum Wage in Ohio?
In the majority of circumstances, it is illegal to pay less than minimum wage to workers in Ohio. State law and federal rules enforced under the Fair Labor Standards Act do list some exemptions from Ohio’s minimum wage requirement, but those are either obvious or apply only rarely. The exemptions that apply most broadly involve people who can only be covered by the federal minimum wage law or who, when paid a fair salary, would already earn well in excess of the minimum wage.
What Is the Minimum Wage in Ohio?
During 2019, Ohio law mandated a $8.55/hour minimum wage for most workers.
Employees such as waitstaff and bartenders who regularly receive tips could be paid $4.30/hour. That is only half the story, though. Employers who pay the tipped wage have legal duties to ensure that the tips bring employees’ hourly earnings up to at least $8.55. Importantly, employers are not allowed to take away employees’ tips so that they end up making only the minimum wage.
Which Workers Are Exempt From the Minimum Wage Requirement in Ohio?
According to the state Department of Commerce, the following workers are not covered by the Ohio minimum wage law:
- Executives, professionals and administrative personnel who receive salaries instead of hourly wages
- S. government employees
- Live-in babysitters and caregivers who do not perform housekeeping duties
- Commissioned salespeople who work a route or spend most of their time visiting clients
- Volunteers who provide services at a state or local government agency
- Volunteers who provide services for a charitable organization or at a health care facility
- Camp counselors at nonprofit camps for children younger than 18
- Family members who work at family-owned businesses
Freelancers and contractors who provide personal or professional services that are not related to construction or maintenance are also exempt from Ohio’s minimum wage law. Building and maintenance tradespeople are covered by Ohio’s prevailing wage law. Freelancers and professional contract workers are not considered employees for wage-paying purposes.
What Happens When an Employer Does Not Pay the Minimum Wage to an Employee Who Should Receive It?
Saying that is it illegal to pay less than minimum wage to most workers does not actually accomplish much. Some employers will persist in seizing tips, misclassifying employees as professionals or contractors, or using any other number of tricks to get out of paying people what the law requires.
Employees have undeniable legal rights to file lawsuits for minimum wage violations and to hire employee rights attorneys while doing so. Partnering with a lawyer will help an unfairly paid employee identify and access the records that are needed to prove that a minimum wage violation occurred. Enlisting the advice and representation of an attorney can also protect an employee from retaliation and help an employee figure out if his or her co-workers were also cheated out of earning the minimum wage.
Succeeding with a minimum wage lawsuit can result in awards of back pay with interest and other monetary damages, as well as court orders for the defendant employer to document improvements in pay practices. If you believe your employer is violating your right to receive the minimum wage in Ohio, consider reaching out to The Friedmann Firm. We take appointments online, and every initial consultation is free and confidential. You can also call us at 614.610.9755.
Rachel and Dominick were incredibly helpful throughout the entire process. They got back to me quickly, whenever I had questions, which helped me stay calm during a very stressful time. Rachel was confident in her abilities and knowledge of the labor laws, and she was able to secure a settlement for me. If you ever find yourself in a situation that requires you take action against an employer, I would highly recommend the Friedman Firm. There's no one I would recommend more to be in your corner.
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I needed an employment lawyer to work through a non compete. Pete at The Friedmann Firm was listed as one of the three best rated employment lawyers on a local website. I called him in the morning and later that night he was on the case and provided sound council through a very tense negotiation. Don’t take a chance with your career, reach out and get good council. Pete was very responsive every step of the way and delivered positive results. I highly recommend Pete and his Firm!
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I called them with some questions about my employment and Jamie was very helpful. I didn’t need an attorney to handle a case for me - only to help me navigate an issue I was having at work. She answered my questions and I felt she truly listened to me. I’d recommend this firm to anyone looking for an employment lawyer. Thank you!
Pete resolved issues I was having with my employer in a quick and favorable manner. He is also easy to talk to and understands his clients rights AND needs. You’d do right to call The Friedmann Firm.
I had a terrific experience with Rachel. She handled my case in a very professional manner. She made herself available and always kept me updated. Her knowledge of the law is incredible. She took the time to educate me on the legal processes so I understood what was happening with my case. Thank you Rachel for helping me navigate a most difficult situation. I am so thankful to have had you as my attorney. You have my highest recommendation.