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Workplace disputes can be facts of many employees' everyday work lives, but what about when an employer crosses a line and impacts their employee's livelihood or rights?
Take a Cincinnati employer who refuses to pay an ex-employee their accrued vacation time. The employer may face a wage theft suit depending on the terms of the vacation policy—or lack thereof. Perhaps a Cleveland employer rejects an application because of a worker's criminal history may be breaching discrimination laws.
Employment law covers a multitude of topics, including worker's compensation, workplace discrimination, vacation and overtime, unemployment benefits and more. Your employment dispute is often affected by federal, state and local laws simultaneously. Ohio employment law attorneys are experienced with the delicacy and complexity of work-related cases and can help protect your rights.
Ohio is an "at-will" employment state, meaning that most employers may terminate an at-will employee for any reason or no reason at any time. At-will employees typically don't have contracts which would clearly condition their employment.
While you may feel like your employer unfairly fired you, a valid wrongful termination case relies on whether your employer violated an employment law, not on personal feelings. The Fair Labor Standards Act defines and protects employee rights from discrimination and other unfair practices.
Employers also cannot retaliate against employees who report unlawful business practices to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). For example, if you find that your employer refuses to purchase protective gear for electrical work and you reported them to OSHA, Ohio's whistleblower laws may protect you from such retaliation.
Ohio's minimum wage as of January 2017 is $8.15/hour. Cleveland attempted to pass legislation in 2016 for a 2017 ballot bill that would have decided if the city's minimum wage should be increased to $15/hour. However, the Ohio House of Representatives struck down the legislation in December 2016 citing specific hardships on employers and employees in the city and on the state's economy if the minimum wage was increased beyond the state's minimum wage.
Ohio employers aren't required to provide vacation or leave to employees. However, an employer who chooses to provide such must adhere to the vacation or leave policy they create or an employment contract. The employer must also comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act.
If an employer chooses to establish a vacation or leave policy, they may include an accrual or "use it or lose it" policy if the time off is paid. A "use it or lose it" policy restricts an employee from collecting unused paid time off and from transferring it into the next business cycle. Whatever choices the employer makes in their policy, they must inform their employees of these choices and their rights.
Upon separation, an employer may offer an employee payment of accrued unused leave time. However, if the leave policy or employment contract is silent on this matter, the employer is required to pay out the accrued leave.
If you or a loved one is involved in an employment law dispute, it's in your best interests to consult with an attorney. Employment law is a broad, complicated legal area with federal and state laws at play. An experienced Ohio employment law attorney can help protect your legal rights.
Have you been discriminated against by a potential or current employer -- as a job applicant or current employee? To best protect your legal rights you should discuss your situation with an employment lawyer. Meet with a local employment attorney sooner rather than later to protect your rights.