Best Employment Lawyer Answer: Our pay rights lawyers recently blogged about the protections that employees have for reporting wage and hour violations on their jobs. (Best Law Read: Am I Protected After Reporting Wage Theft Under The FLSA?). As our wage theft attorneys discussed, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) is a federal law that requires employers to pay its non-exempt employees minimum wage and overtime at time and half. Our overtime pay lawyers also explained that violating the FLSA can be very costly for employers. (Best Law Read: What Damages Can I Get For Wage Violations And Retaliation Under FLSA?).
Today, we have a very good example of what can happen courtesy of the Department of Labor (“DOL”). In this example of wage theft and retaliation, two restaurants in Fairfield County, Connecticut and their owners, Christopher Delmonico and Niall O’Neill, were originally found to have violated the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime violations, as well engage in tip pool violations. As a result, these employers paid $137,465 in back wages and liquidated damages to their employees. As this is just the second paragraph of several paragraphs of this blog, you can safely assume that this wage violation story did not end here.
Apparently, Delmonico and Niall O’Neill had second thoughts and several regrets after paying the back wages and liquidated damages (which is an amount equal to the wages owed). So, this employer decided to make two employees get in his car and go with him to the bank, where he waited in the parking lot for them to cash their damages check and give the money back to him. He threatened another employee with being blacklisted in the restaurant industry if he did not give money back. When one employee refused to comply with his demands, he fired him and ridiculed him to potential employers. Certainly, this is a wrongful termination. And worst of all, he blackmailed certain employees with the threat of reporting them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) in order to get back their FLSA wage damages.
How dumb can an employer be? These are the same employees that just reported the employer for wage theft violations. Did he think that all of them would remain silent as he took back the money from the first go-around? One of the things that our wage and hour lawyers know all too well is to not underestimate the greed and stupidity of employers.
So, back to court for everyone, where Delmonico and Niall O’Neill, as well as the corporate entities, were ordered to pay back the money they reappropriated, pay an additional $90,000 in punitive damages and an additional $10,000 to the employee they fired for back wages. In addition, the employers were ordered not to take any adverse actions against these employees, which means that they cannot fire them, report them, nor harass them. (Best Law Read: What Is An Adverse Employment Action?). Lastly, the Court ordered these employers to not take the money back again – which one would think is unnecessary at this point given the lessons twice taught to the employers. However, the Court, much like our FLSA attorneys, know not to underestimate the greed and stupidity of employers.
What should I do if my job fires me for requesting owed overtime pay?
Best Ohio Wage Theft Attorney Answer: You should immediately get legal help. Firing an employee in retaliation for reporting FLSA violations is clearly a wrongful firing. But the FLSA is incredibly complicated that necessitates the help of qualified employment law lawyers. Most attorneys have never dealt with the FLSA and don’t know much about wage claims or wrongful termination arising out of FLSA retaliation.
If you think that the company you work for 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 required 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 Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm today for a free and confidential initial consultation. The experienced wage and hour lawyers at Spitz will provide you with the top 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 our Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Boardman, and Detroit attorneys right now.
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?”, “Can I be fired for demanding my overtime pay”, “Can the company that I work for make me pay them back part of my paycheck” or “What do I do if ia m not being paid minimum wage”, 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.