As outlined in The Cincinnati Enquirer (5/11/13), The US Department of Labor launched an investigation into Bowlin Group and Bowlin Services (Bowlin), the latter serving as a subsidiary to the former. Among various affronts to Ohio employment laws, Bowlin was found to have failed in keeping accurate payroll records.
However, the most serious violation to Ohio labor and employment law was the misclassification of some, but not all, employees of Bowlin.
According to the report, the Bowlin subsidiary provided cable installation services to Insight Communications through May of last year. The investigation found that while some installers were correctly classified as employees, 77 others were misclassified as independent contractors.
Further, according to the Ohio State Employment report, all of Bowlin’s employees undertaking installations were paid based on the pieces of equipment they installed, rather than an hourly rate. In this way, the report stated, the employees were denied overtime in accordance with Ohio labor laws.
The US Department of Labor sued the firm on behalf of one of its employees, and won a consent judgment in federal court. The final judgment amounted to $1,075,000 with the largest single payout to an employee sitting at just over $70,000.
Activists advocating for Ohio employee rights maintain that in an economy that continues to be soft, many employers attempt to cut costs and increase productivity by intentionally misclassifying employees as either exempt from overtime pay or as independent contractors. Others employers, it has been stated, simply fail to fully understand and grasp the sometimes intricate statutes that govern employers.
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Last fall, according to the Dayton Daily News (5/20/13), the US Department of Labor filed a complaint against the El Grande restaurant chain, after an investigation found that three restaurants in the chain failed to pay minimum wages and overtime to a total of 171 workers. One of those restaurants is located in Dayton, Ohio. The complaint sought $285,000 in back wages.
According to the report, similar Ohio employment labor law complaints have been filed across the state against the operators of a Subway franchise and a sushi chain. To that end, employees who begin to smell something fishy are contacting Ohio employment attorneys for help.