There are many ways employers violate the Fair Labor Standards Act and Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act other than simply denying you minimum wages and overtime. In many cases, employers violate the law by failing to pay you for all of the hours you work. This usually happens in the following ways:
Failing to pay for work not requested but work suffered or permitted
If your employer knows that you are performing work, it is required to pay you for your work time, even if it does not request that you perform the work. For example, if you voluntarily start working before your shift starts or continue to work after your shift ends, you must be paid for this time.
Failing to pay for preparatory and concluding activities
Your employer is required to pay you for tasks that you perform before and after your normal job duties if they are required for your job and benefit your employer, such as time spent changing into uniforms and washing your hands if you work in food production. Other activities found compensable by courts include setting up a workstation, gathering necessary equipment and supplies, cleaning machines used in manufacturing, driving a company truck to the work site, caring for and transporting police dogs, and conducting safety inspections.
Failing to pay for on-duty meal periods
Your employer is not required to give you a meal period, but it may do so. As long as it is a bona fide meal time, which means it is usually at least 30 minutes in length and no work is performed, your employer is not required to pay you for this time. During unpaid meal periods, you must be completely relieved of all duties and free to leave the place you perform your work. If you perform any job duties while eating, you must be paid for your meal period. For example, if you eat at your desk and make phone calls or send emails for work during your meal period, you must be paid for the entire period.
Failing to pay for short rest periods
Your employer must pay you for short rest periods. The Fair Labor Standards Act defines short rest periods as brief periods of five to twenty minutes, and considers these breaks beneficial for employees.
Always rounding down starting or stopping times
Your employer may record your start or stop times to the nearest five, ten or fifteen minutes, provided the amounts rounded off average out over time. This means that both “rounding up” and “rounding down” occurs so that you are not disadvantaged over time. Rounding down practices that only benefit your employer are improper.
Failing to pay for waiting time
Whether waiting time is work time under the Fair Labor Standards Act depends upon the particular circumstances. Your employer must pay you if you are “engaged to wait,” but is not required to pay you if you are “waiting to be engaged.” For example, a secretary who reads a book while waiting for dictation, or a fireman who plays checkers while waiting for an alarm must be paid during these periods of inactivity. These employees have been “engaged to wait.”
Failing to pay for travel time
Your employer is required to pay you for travel time if it is required for your principal job duties. For example, if you transport equipment and supplies that you need for your job, you must be paid for your travel time. Your employer is also required to pay you for travel time that occurs within your workday. This means if your travel time occurs between the first and last work you perform each day, your employer must pay you for this travel time. Ordinary home to work travel is not compensable, unless you perform work at your home before or after you travel.
Failing to pay for lectures, meetings and training programs
Your employer must pay you for attending lectures, meetings, training programs unless all four of the following criteria are met: 1) they are outside of your normal work hours; 2) your attendance is voluntary; 3) they are not job related; and 4) no other work is performed at the same time.
If you believe you are owed unpaid wages or overtime as a result of not being paid for all of your work time, contact us right away. The time period for which you can seek a payment for your unpaid wages and overtime will depend on when you file a claim with a court.
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