Best Ohio Wage And Hour Attorney Answer: Do I have to do arbitration my overtime violation claims if I didn’t sign anything? Can I still sue my company for wage theft if I have an arbitration clause? Can my employer make me waive my rights to bring a class action for not paying the employees overtime?
During early employer-employee relationships, agreements were often made and considered enforceable by verbally agreeing to do something. Eventually, as work relationships got increasingly more complex and hard to define, employment contracts were used to determine the duties and obligations each party owed the other. Now, however, employees are frequently flooded with paperwork during the initial on-boarding and hiring phase. Some of the paperwork relates to W-2s and contact information, but more and more employers are attempting to make their employees waive, or give up, their rights to sue the employer in the event of a disagreement, or risk being terminated.
Thankfully, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently handed down a decision that helps to protect employees from this unfair practice utilized by employers. In Lewis v. Epic Systems Corporation, Jacob Lewis was a technical writer for Epic. During his time with Epic, Lewis received an email containing an arbitration agreement that would require all wage-and-hour claims to be brought by individual arbitration and that employees waived their right to participate in any class action against Epic. The agreement also stated that there was implied acceptance of the terms if you continued to work for Epic, but did not offer anything in terms of options for rejecting the agreement and still keeping your job. Lewis then clicked two buttons saying that he acknowledged the agreement.
As you may be able to predict, Lewis eventually got into a dispute with Epic and sued Epic in federal court, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA“). As you may already know from reading our wage and hour attorneys regular blog posts, the FLSA is a federal law that requires employers to pay minimum wage; establishes overtime pay eligibility and pay requirements; and sets wage and hour recordkeeping standards, among other things. (See How Do I Prove That I Was Not Paid Overtime? – Call The Right Attorney; How Do The New Overtime Rules Help Me?; Does My Job Need To Pay Me Minimum Wage?; Can Minors Be Paid Below Minimum Wage?; and Can I Be Fired For Requesting Overtime Pay?). Under the FLSA, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, while Ohio law set the minimum wage higher at $8.10 per hour. (See What Is Minimum Wage In Ohio For 2016? – Call The Right Attorney). Both the FLSA and Ohio law require employers to pay workers time and a half for all hours that is worked pasted 40 hours in any given workweek.
After the district court denied Epic’s motion to compel individual arbitration based on the agreement Lewis was emailed, Epic appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In upholding the district court’s decision, the Seventh Circuit relied on the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and stated:
“A contract that limits Section 7 rights that is agreed to as a condition of continued employment qualifies as “interfer[ing] with” or “restrain[ing] … employees in the exercise” of those rights in violation of Section 8(a)(1). 29 U.S.C. § 157(a)(1). In short, Sections 7 and 8 of the NLRA render Epic’s arbitration provision unenforceable.” Id at 11.
This decision is an important victory for the rights of employees, and will hopefully put an end to the madness that is employers forcing employees to waive all their rights just to make an honest living and provide for themselves and their families. If you are currently in a dispute, or believe you may be in one soon, over the enforcement of individual arbitration or waiver of rights to sue, contact our firm as soon as possible to get a free and confidential consultation.
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 (216) 291-4744.
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.