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When you do an honest day’s work, you have the right to receive every penny legally owed to you. If you believe that your employer has shortchanged you on one or more paychecks, you can file a wage claim to pursue financial compensation for this tort. It is illegal for an employer to fire, demote or otherwise retaliate against you for filing a wage claim in Ohio. This is a protected activity under state and federal law.
Retaliation refers to an employer taking any type of adverse employment action against a worker for engaging in a legally protected activity. Retaliation can take the form of wrongful termination, a pay cut or demotion, relocation, discrimination, harassment, or not giving a job applicant the job. When these actions are taken as a way to punish the individual for engaging in a protected activity, it is illegal retaliation.
A protected activity refers to an action that the employee is permitted to take by law. Retaliation is the illegal infringement upon this right by threatening negative consequences or punishing the worker for engaging in the legally protected activity. Common activities that result in employer retaliation against a worker in Ohio include reporting safety violations to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, discrimination or harassment complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and wage and hour violations to the state.
A wage claim is a legally protected activity that may be necessary if your employer is guilty of wage theft, or paying you less than you deserve by law. Your boss might have failed to pay you overtime, for example, or paid you lower than minimum wage. Whether your employer intentionally or unintentionally underpaid you, you may need to file a wage claim. A wage claim demands financial compensation for a wage violation, such as money to make up for your missed or stolen wages.
If you suspect a wage violation by your employer in Ohio, start by documenting everything. Make copies of all of your employment documents and pay stubs. Then, contact an attorney to help you with the legal side of things. You or your lawyer will need to fill out and file the correct forms based on the type of wage violation and submit them to the Ohio Bureau of Wage & Hour Investigator. An investigation will take place and your employer may be forced to pay you for your missed wages and other damages.
If you get fired after filing a wage claim, you most likely have a strong case for retaliation. While it may be possible that you were terminated for other reasons, the timing casts suspicion on your employer. If your lawyer can prove that your filing of the wage claim was more likely than not the reason that you got fired, your employer may have to pay you financial compensation for the tort of retaliation.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that prohibits retaliation by employers against employees. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act also protects employees from unlawful retaliation and unfair treatment. Finally, Ohio labor law makes it unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee. Retaliation can serve as the basis for a claim under any of these laws.
If you believe that you’ve been wrongfully terminated for filing a wage claim in Ohio, the best way to protect your rights is by hiring an attorney as soon as possible. An employment lawyer in Ohio can listen to your story and determine if you have a valid retaliation claim. If so, your lawyer can help you collect evidence against your employer to prove your case. A lawyer can take your case all the way to trial, if necessary, to achieve maximum financial compensation on your behalf.
For more information about a retaliation case, contact Scott & Winters Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation.