Laws at both the federal and state level protect employees and their workplace rights in Ohio. From wage and hour, to safety and health, to discrimination and harassment and more, laws regulate how businesses operate in the state, while affording protections to employees against abuse by their employers.
For 35 years, Attorney F. Benjamin Riek III has been looking out for employee rights and taking action to seek restitution and compensation when warranted. If you feel you’ve been wronged, mistreated, or subjected to unsafe work conditions in or around Akron, Canton, Hudson, Cleveland, or Lorain, Ohio, contact the Law Offices of F. Benjamin Riek III immediately.
With the onset of the Great Depression, the federal government began regulating workplace conditions, starting with wage and hour issues, including minimum wage and overtime rules. States have generally mirrored or even exceeded federal requirements with their own laws and standards. Ohio is no different, with various statutes and agencies dedicated to employee protections and rights. Here is a summary:
Minimum wage and overtime rules were first established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. The federal minimum wage currently stands at $7.25 an hour, but in Ohio, the base rate is $8.80 an hour, with a provision for tipped employees at $4.40 an hour. Smaller businesses earning $250,000 or less a year can pay the federal minimum. Child workers aged 14 or 15 are also subject to the federal standard. Overtime at one-and-a-half times the normal hourly rate applies when an employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek.
The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970 was the first nationwide legislation to regulate safety and health standards in the workplace. As a result of the statute, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created. Some states have opted to create their own state plans to conform to OSHA standards, or even exceed them, but Ohio relies on Fed-OSHA for enforcement of its standards.
OSHA sets standards for specific industries and then regulates them through training mandates, inspections, fines, and other enforcement actions, but it also places a minimum standard on all businesses with its General Duty Clause, which declares that each employer "shall furnish . . . a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees."
The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 created “protected classes” based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Since then, subsequent legislation has extended protections based on age, disability, pregnancy status, genetic history, veteran status, sexual orientation, and more.
Discrimination against protected classes can assume various forms. From the rejection of a job applicant to the denial of employment advancement, a demotion, or outright termination — with many stops in between. Employees are also protected against harassment, which includes slurs, exclusion of individuals from groups, offensive jokes, and more, including sexual innuendos and advances.
Ohio actually passed its own Civil Rights Act in 1959, predating the federal statute and creating the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.
Employees often remain silent at work when they see discrimination and harassment or safety violations taking place for fear of retaliation. Remember, however, you don’t have to be in a protected class to be protected from retaliation. State and federal laws are there to shield you.
Retaliation can take many forms, not just outright termination. Your company might demote you, isolate you, move you to an undesirable location within the premises, deny you benefits, overlook you for promotion, or even change your hours so you’re made to suffer in your personal life. In fact, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), retaliation is the single most reported violation.
Wrongful termination can rear its ugly head due to a variety of reasons. It can result from discrimination based on the many protected classes contained in both federal and state civil rights statutes. It can also result from retaliation. For instance, an employee reports a serious safety violation at work, and suddenly that employee receives an unfavorable review and is let go.
Even though employment in Ohio is mostly “at will,” meaning either the employer or the employee can end it at any time for any reason, or even for no reason, employers still cannot break the law when terminating an employee.
Going it alone when trying to resolve a bad situation at work, or worse, a wrongful termination, can prove frustrating and emotionally draining. The process can take a long time — and meanwhile, you’re still suffering at work or trying to find new employment after being wrongfully discharged.
You need someone who understands the specific federal and state laws that protect your rights. An experienced attorney can guide and advise you on seeking damages through the court system.
When you’ve been wronged at work, you deserve the best legal counsel and representation you can get, along with an attorney who will stand by you the whole way. If you’re in or around Akron, Ohio, contact the Law Offices of F. Benjamin Riek III immediately to schedule a consultation. Attorney F. Benjamin Riek III will investigate your situation and help you exercise your full rights under the law every step of the way.