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What to Do if Your Boss Is Underpaying You

Posted on September 15, 2022 by Legal Team

In Ohio, both state and federal laws protect workers from being underpaid. The law enacts a minimum wage, or a minimum amount that workers must be paid per hour. There are also rules in place for tips, overtime, and wage deductions. If you feel that you are being underpaid by your boss based on the wage laws that apply to you, take these steps to protect your rights.

Document the Issue 

If the payment that you are receiving feels like less than you are owed by law, start documenting the pay problem. Keep all of your pay stubs or checks are given to you by your employer, especially if there are notations of unusual deductions. If you were given an employment contract, make a copy.

If you are a tipped employee, record the amount that you receive in tips each day, as well as how much your boss is keeping if you are suspicious of illegal tip skimming. Document your hours worked, including overtime hours worked, and write it down if your boss has been making you work off the clock.

File a Complaint

Broaching the subject of being underpaid with your employer can be uncomfortable. If you don’t wish to bring up your pay with your boss directly, there are other solutions. First, you can contact the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Wage & Hour Administration to request an investigation.  

If the state agency does not resolve the issue, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division to request a federal investigation. Gather together the information that you’ve collected, then take one of the following steps: 

  1. Call 1-866-487-9243 to speak to a representative. You can receive answers to your employment law questions and request an underpayment inquiry.
  2. File a claim online. Use the Department’s online contact form to request an inquiry. Submit your contact information, workplace zip code, employment status, work sector and other information to initiate an investigation.
  3. Work with the investigator assigned to your case. Cooperate with the agent sent by the Department while he or she holds an initial conference, tours your workplace, conducts interviews, reviews pay records and hosts a final conference to find a solution.

 If the Department finds evidence that you’ve been underpaid, they will discuss the violation with your employer in the final conference. The Department will explain how the employer can correct the violation and require the employer to pay employees back pay if they are owed to any victims of unlawful underpayment. Back wages are a form of compensation paid to an employee for work that was performed but not paid. 

Bring a Lawsuit Against Your Employer

 In some scenarios, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation may not be enough to resolve an issue of underpayment. If your boss continues to pay you below minimum wage, deprive you of benefits owed, fail to adjust your salary for inflation, take your tips or use other measures to underpay you, the next step is to contact an experienced wage and hour lawyer in Cleveland. A lawyer can seek an amicable solution with your employer – or take your case to court, if necessary.

Employees are able to bring lawsuits against their employers for hour and wage violations in Ohio. A lawsuit pursues financial compensation to reimburse the worker for the wages that were unlawfully deducted or stolen by an employer. You may have the right to file an individual (private) lawsuit or a class action/collective action with other wronged employees. A lawyer can help you prove you’re being underpaid through documents, records and other evidence to fight for the compensation that you are owed. 

For more information about underpayment in Ohio, contact Scott & Winters Law Firm, LLC to schedule a free consultation with a wage and hour attorney.