Best Ohio Wage Theft Lawyers Reply: Can I be paid less than minimum wage? What if I agree to work for less than minimum wage? I signed an agreement with my employer, can I change my mind?
As our wage and hour attorneys have previously blogged about, there is a law, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA“), that requires employers to pay a minimum wage and overtime. More specifically, the FLSA requires that all covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, plus time and one-half for all hour worked beyond 40 per workweek. Similarly, Ohio R.C. § 4111.03 requires employers to pay nonexempt employees overtime wages for all hours above 40 per workweek. (See How Do I Prove That I Was Not Paid Overtime?; Does My Job Need To Pay Me Minimum Wage?; and What If I Can’t Afford To Sue My Employer For Overtime Violations?)
An employee who has not been paid her rightful overtime may bring suit under either the FLSA or Ohio R.C. § 4111, subject to some limitations. While both the FLSA and Ohio R.C. § 4111 provide for the award of attorneys’ fees to a prevailing employee, the FLSA is sometimes a better option for an aggrieved employee, as it provides for an award of liquidated damages in addition to the unpaid overtime. Many times when a lawsuit is filed, the parties will agree on a settlement outside of the courtroom instead of risking it all at trial.
Recently, the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit examined whether an employee and an employer could settle a FLSA claim without the Court’s approval. In Cheeks v. Freeport Pancake House, Inc., the employee and employer settled the FSLA claim and attempted to dismiss the pending lawsuit.
Dorian Cheeks worked as a server and manager at Freeport Pancake House, Inc.. In August 2012, Cheeks sued Freeport Pancake House because her employer did not pay her overtime wages that she was owed. Cheeks also sought to recover liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees under both the FLSA and New York Labor Law. To make matters worse, the employer demoted and then wrongfully fired Cheeks after he complained about the wage theft.
After the wage and hour complaint was filed, the employer and employee decided to settle all of the claims, but wanted to keep the terms private. However, the court held that parties could not enter into the private settlement of the FLSA claims without either the approval of the district court of the Department of Labor (“DOL“). This is because the FLSA’s primary remedial purpose is to prevent abuses by unscrupulous employers, and remedy the disparate bargaining power between employers and employees. The courts fear that “[w]ithout judicial oversight, … employers may be more inclined to offer, and employees, even when represented by counsel, may be more inclined to accept, private settlements that ultimately are cheaper to the employer than compliance with the Act.”
There are a few exceptions to the rule that FLSA claims cannot be settled without court approval. One exception is when there is a dispute over the number of hours worked, not the rate at which the employee would be paid for the hours.
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.