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Top Overtime Lawyer Answer: Can I Be Fired For Requesting Overtime Pay?

by | Apr 1, 2014 | Minimum Wage Violation, Overtime Violations, Retaliation, Tipped Employee Violations, Wrongful Termination |

Best Overtime Wage Attorney Answer: Do I have to share tips with the cooks? What should I do if my boss will not pay overtime wages? How do I find a wrongful termination lawyer?

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Employers aren’t all bad. Many are simply ignorant of the law and genuinely don’t understand they’ve violated their employees’ rights. Some know the law and refuse to abide by it until they are caught—after which they straighten up. Then there are employers like the Dancing Wasabi Hyde Park restaurant in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dancing Wasabi Hyde Park flagrantly violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), got caught, and eventually settled the case. But, what it did next is astonishing.

Under the FLSA employers must pay almost all employees the federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25 per hour (in Ohio the minimum wage is $7.95). Also, employers must pay all non-exempt employees one and a half times their regular pay rate for every hour over forty hours that they work in a week. Employees must also keep accurate records for time and payroll. If an employer violates the FLSA it is generally liable to its employees for back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Additionally, employers cannot retaliate against employees for exercising their FLSA rights.

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These are not onerous rules for employers to follow, but Dancing Wasabi repeatedly violated the minimum wage, overtime and record keeping provisions. And, it managed to find time to unlawfully retaliate against its employees too.

In 2013, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) completed a long-term investigation of Dancing Wasabi. The investigation uncovered that kitchen employees worked 65-70 hour workweeks but received no overtime and earned less than minimum wage. The owner, Chang Hee Choi, apparently told kitchen workers they were not entitled to overtime. Also discovered was the fact that servers were forced to pay some of their tips to kitchen employees, which in turn caused servers’ pay to fall below minimum wage and violated tip pooling rules.

From October 24, 2010 to October 23, 2012 Dancing Wasabi underpaid 65 workers to the tune of $38,494. In January 2013 the company agreed to pay their employees back wages, install a time clock, record hours worked, and obey the law. Dancing Wasabi had other ideas, however, and continued to violate wage laws, although it did install a time clock. In particular, the company and owner Mr. Choi violated the FLSA again when it forced four kitchen workers to return checks issued for wages due because of the company’s previous FLSA violations. Oh, and when the workers justly refused to sign over the checks Mr. Choi fired them. That is what you call a textbook case of wrongful termination.

So, thanks to the actions of the four kitchen workers, Dancing Wasabi and Mr. Choi were dragged back into court and face more damages, including the good probability of costly punitive damages.

The FLSA is in place to ensure employees receive a minimum wage, are paid for all hours worked, are paid accordingly when they work overtime, and have the ability to challenge employers that violate the law without fear of reprisal. If owners like Mr. Choi and companies like Dancing Wasabi were permitted to so egregiously ignore the law and repeatedly thumb their noses at employee rights, while facing no consequences, then wage and hour laws would quickly lose their potency. If you believe your employer is violating the FLSA, protect your rights like the four kitchen workers from Dancing Wasabi, and contact a wage and hour attorney to ensure that your voice is heard.

If you believe that your employer is not paying you all of your wages for all of your lawfully earned overtime compensation at a rate of one and half times your normal wages as requires under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act or Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards laws or you are an nonexempt employee that has been misclassified as exempt, contact the attorneys at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm today for a free and confidential initial consultation. Or, maybe you are being misclassified as an independent contractor. The wage and hour lawyers at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm will provide you with the best options for your overtime pay dispute situation. If you even think that you may be entitled to overtime pay that you are not being paid, call 866-797-6040.

Disclaimer:

The materials available at the top of this overtime, wage and hour web page and at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “Am I entitled to overtime?”, “Does my job have to pay me for …”, “My paycheck is not right…” or “What do I do if…”, the your best option is to contact an Ohio overtime attorney to obtain advice with respect to FLSA questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at the top of this page or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.