Best Ohio Overtime Wage Attorney Answer: Am I entitled to get paid for time worked off the clock? What happens if my boss does not know I am working off the clock? How do I prove how much time that I worked? What is wage theft?
As our overtime lawyers often explain to clients who have unpaid overtime claims, the best way to get what you are owed is to ensure that you keep records of all the time you work. This is especially true for employees who are illegally paid cash “under the table” or whose employers otherwise don’t keep track of employees time. However, many employees aren’t aware of this fact until after they have called us. How do you prove your overtime claim then?
Both Ohio state courts and federal courts will generally hold employees who worked off the clock to different standards depending upon whether the employer kept adequate records or not. When the employee is in charge of self-reporting his own work hours, has voluntarily chosen to submit inaccurate time records, or fails to notify the employer of inaccuracies in such time records, courts will hold the employee to a higher standard of proof, and the employee must prove their hours with specificity. This can be difficult to do, but can often be demonstrated by reviewing computer log-in/log-out records, emails, and other documents or records that establish that the employee worked outside the hours recorded by the employer.
Courts will apply a much more lenient standard to employees, however, where the employer fails to keep adequate records. In these cases, the court will generally accept the employees estimation of hours worked, even if the only evidence is their (admittedly self serving) testimony. The burden then shifts to the employer to come forth with evidence that the employee did not actually work the hours they claimed to have worked.
The rationale for this more lenient standard dates all the way back to 1946, when the Supreme Court decided Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co. Anderson involved claims by several employees of the Mount Clemens Pottery Company who were not compensated for the time they spent walking from the entrance of the factory they worked in (which was a quarter mile long!) to their workstations, or for putting on equipment and preparing machines. However, the employees did not have records of the minutes spent doing these activities each day. In deciding that the purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) were better served by placing the burden on employers to show that their time records were accurate, the Supreme Court held:
When the employer has kept proper and accurate records, the employee may easily discharge his burden by securing the production of those records. But where the employer’s records are inaccurate or inadequate and the employee cannot offer convincing substitutes, a more difficult problem arises. The solution, however, is not to penalize the employee by denying him any recovery on the ground that he is unable to prove the precise extent of uncompensated work. Such a result would place a premium on an employer’s failure to keep proper records in conformity with his statutory duty; it would allow the employer to keep the benefits of an employee’s labors without paying due compensation as contemplated by the Fair Labor Standards Act. In such a situation we hold that an employee has carried out his burden if he proves that he has in fact performed work for which he was improperly compensated and if he produces sufficient evidence to show the amount and extent of that work as a matter of just and reasonable inference. The burden then shifts to the employer to come forward with evidence of the precise amount of work performed or with evidence to negative the reasonableness of the inference to be drawn from the employee’s evidence. If the employer fails to produce such evidence, the court may then award damages to the employee, even though the result be only approximate.
Even with this lowered standard of proof, it is still preferable for employees to come forth with as much evidence as they can of the hours worked. While courts can just take an employee’s word for it in such cases, courts (and employers) are more likely to find the employees estimation credible when it is backed up by a journal or diary, or other records.
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 or independent contractor, contact the attorneys at the Spitz law firm today for a free and confidential initial consultation. The wage and hour lawyers at the Spitz 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.
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 the Spitz law firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.