One way that employees can be unlawfully underpaid is when they are "on-call" and restricted in what they can do but receive no compensation or overtime pay for this time. A recent Ohio case decided in November highlights how employees can get their fair pay if they find themselves in such a situation.
On-call nurse wasn't paid OT
A nurse who was paid her regular pay of $36 per hour during on-call hours sued a hospital for unpaid overtime for time spent on call. The hospital alleged that the time the nurse spent on call was non-compensable and, therefore, was not subject to overtime laws, an argument that the court rejected.
The court made a distinction between on-call employees who are allowed to freely engage in personal activities while on call and workers who are restricted from engaging in personal activities or receive frequent calls from work. The court looked at several factors, including whether the employer imposed geographic restrictions while the employee was on call.
Federal and state laws protect workers
Employees in Ohio are protected from wage and hour violations in part by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employees should take the time to learn about wage and hour law, especially the FLSA. In this case, the court awarded damages to the nurse because she was engaged in work activities for much of the time she was on call.
An attorney experienced in wage and hour law can advise you about whether your employer is complying with the FLSA. Every wage and hour case is different since judges weigh multiple factors when determining whether there was a violation. Other wage and hour violations include failure to pay minimum wage, unlawfully classifying employees as exempt from overtime and asking employees to work off the clock without compensation.