Minimum Wage Laws and Information

The “minimum wage” is the lowest amount that an employer can legally pay an employee, regardless of employee’s work type or quality.

The 2016 federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. The federal minimum wage is governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 201, et seq.).

The 2016 Ohio minimum wage is $8.10 per hour. The Ohio minimum wage is governed by Article II, Section 34a of the Ohio Constitution.

Who is entitled to minimum wage? To figure out if you are entitled to minimum wage, you need to answer these questions:

  • Is there a law that requires my employer to pay me minimum wage?
  • Am I the type of person covered under the law?
  • Is my employer the type of employer covered under the law?
  • Am I or my employer exempt from the law’s requirements?

We answer all of these questions and more below.

Am I entitled to minimum wage?

The quick answer is that if you are an employee, then you are probably entitled to minimum wage. Because there are a number of complicated exemptions, double-check with an experienced wage and hour lawyer.

Where can I go for help with my minimum wage issue? The wage and hour law team at Markovits, Stock & DeMarco is equipped to assist both employees and employers with minimum wage issues.

Click here to Learn more about the law firm of Markovits, Stock & DeMarco or call (614) 604-8759 to speak to a lawyer.

Is there a law that requires my employer to pay me minimum wage?

In the United States, we have both state and federal wage and hour laws that require employers to pay at least a “minimum wage.”

The federal law is called the Fair Labor Standard Act (the “FLSA” for short). The FLSA covers not just minimum wage but a number of other topics like overtime pay, record keeping, child labor, pay discrimination, and breastfeeding accommodation.

The FLSA only covers certain employees and employers. Generally, the FLSA only applies if the employer makes at least $500,000 per year or the employee “engages in interstate commerce.”

Ohio’s minimum wage law is found in Article II, Section 34a of Ohio’s constitution.

Unlike the FLSA, Section 34a is specific to minimum wage and record keeping only. Section 34a is also more worker-friendly than the FLSA because Section 34a imposes a higher minimum wage, provides broader coverage, and grants more powerful enforcement options.

Ohio’s minimum wage amendment covers almost anyone who works for an Ohio employer.

Am I the type of person covered under the law?

Only “employees” are covered under the FLSA and Ohio law. The FLSA defines “employee” broadly as “any individual employed by an employer.” There are a number of people not covered by that definition.

Those people are:

  • Certain employees of public agencies
  • Family members working on a family farm
  • Certain volunteers
  • Independent contractors
  • Students and trainees
  • Prisoners

Ohio law uses the FLSA’s definition of “employee” but also excludes “individuals employed in or about the property of the employer or individual’s residence on a casual basis.” (Think babysitters or a neighborhood teen that you pay to pull weeds around the house.)

As long as you are employed by an employer and not in any of the exceptions, then you are covered by wage and hour laws.

Note: The law is complicated as to who counts as a volunteer, independent contractor, or student/trainee. Be sure to seek legal advice when dealing with these exceptions.

Is my employer the type of employer covered under the law?

The Fair Labor Standards Act covers employers who either (1) do at least $500,000 in business per year or (2) employ an employee that engages in interstate commerce. Generally, this covers just about any employer except for very small, local operations.

Under Ohio law, all Ohio employers are covered.

Am I or my employer exempt from the law’s requirements?

If you have answered “yes” to the first three questions (Is there a law that requires my employer to pay me minimum wage? Am I the type of person covered under the law? Is my employer the type of employer covered under the law?), then the final question is whether there is an exemption under the law for either you or your employer.

An “exemption” is a special rule that lets an employer ignore some or all of a law. If you fit within an exemption, then you are not entitled to full minimum wage or maybe any minimum wage at all.

As of March 17, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court has held that Ohio law (Article II, Section 34a of the Ohio Constitution) uses the same exemptions as the Fair Labor Standards Act (see below). In addition, employees are exempt from Ohio’s minimum wage requirements if they are:

  • Family members working at a family business
  • Some employees with mental or physical disabilities (if the state has issued a license to the employer that allows the employer to pay less than minimum wage)

Ohio law also has partial exemptions that allow employers to pay less than Ohio’s minimum wage for certain employees, including:

  • Employees under 16 years old
  • Employees of businesses making less than $250,000 per year
  • Tipped employees

If you find that you are covered under Ohio law, you can probably stop there because Ohio has a higher minimum wage than federal law and stronger enforcement mechanisms.

If you are curious about whether you are covered under federal law, the most common FLSA exemptions are:

  • Executive employees
  • Administrative employees
  • Professional employees
  • Outside salespeople

Note: The most common exemptions (often referred to as the “white collar exemptions”) are also the least understood. Federal Regulations attempt to define what those exemptions actually mean and there are a lot of lawsuits trying to do the same thing. Be sure to consult with a wage and hour lawyer if you plan on relying upon or disputing those FLSA exemptions.

The other FLSA exemptions include:

  • Seasonal workers (like camp counselors, amusement park workers, etc.)
  • Certain employees working in the fishing industry
  • Family farmers
  • Employees of smaller newspapers
  • Switchboard operators
  • Certain seaman
  • Babysitters or companions to the old or infirm
  • Certain criminal investigators/private detectives
  • Certain skilled computer workers
  • Border agents

These exemptions are all listed in a shorthand way for ease of reference. If you think you could fall under an exemption, check the actual language in the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 213).

Also, like Ohio law, federal law allows employers to pay tipped employees less than minimum wage, but only if certain requirements are met.