How to File a Labor Complaint in Ohio

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Under Ohio law, an employee can file a minimum wage or unpaid wages complaint with the Ohio Department of Commerce. The employee should complete the minimum wage complaint form and provide it to the Department’s Division of Industrial Compliance, Bureau of Wage & Hour Administration. There is no cost to have a complaint investigated by the department.

What an Employee Should Provide for a Wage Claim

The Ohio Department of Commerce is the state agency that provides information regarding violations of labor laws on its frequently asked questions (FAQs) page at Ohio.gov. Ohio does not have a department of labor.

If a person has questions about state labor laws, they should contact the Bureau of Wage & Hour Administration at 614-644-2239 or webmaster@wagehour.com.state.oh.us. For questions about federal labor laws, they should contact the U.S. Department of Labor at 866-4-USA-DOL (866-487-2365).

On the minimum wage complaint form, employees should state:

  • Whether they are a present or former employee of the business.
  • Employee’s name, address, email address and phone number.
  • Reason for filing the complaint (minimum wage was not paid; overtime was not paid; unpaid wages; last pay not received; or another reason).
  • Employer name, address, phone number, website, email address, type of business, size of business and the owner’s name.
  • Name and title of employee's supervisor.
  • Whether employer has filed for bankruptcy.
  • Whether employee authorizes the use of their name.
  • Whether employee is over 18 years old.
  • How long employee worked for the employer.
  • What position the employee held.
  • Whether employee was paid a salary or worked for an hourly wage and the amount.
  • Whether employee was eligible for overtime pay and the amount.
  • Whether employee was paid weekly, biweekly or monthly.
  • Whether employee received tips and earned at least $30 in tips per week.
  • Whether the employee worked in outside sales, in a managerial or supervisory position, in a professional position or in interstate commerce.
  • Amount the employee is owed.
  • Whether wages owed were for a bonus, commission or vacation/holiday pay/sick leave.
  • Whether employee owes the employer for advances, loans or merchandise and amount owed.
  • Whether employer kept time records.
  • Whether employee was paid in cash.
  • Whether employer kept wage records.
  • Whether employee has their own record of hours worked.
  • Whether deductions for taxes and other items were withheld and the amount.
  • Whether amounts withheld were listed on pay stubs.
  • Additional information to substantiate their claim. Unsubstantiated claims may be returned.

Signing the Minimum Wage Complaint Form

The claimant must sign the form, and the form must be acknowledged by a public notary, meaning that the notary must verify and certify that the person signing the form is the person who made the claim. A claimant also must submit written notice of any change regarding information shared on the form.

The amount of time it takes for the Department of Commerce to process a claim varies by case.

Employee Civil Rights Complaints

If an employee has a civil rights complaint against their employer, they must contact the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and/or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission has jurisdiction to investigate charges of discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation (services and facilities open to the public), disability in higher education beyond high school/secondary level, and access to credit. The bases protected against discrimination by Ohio state law are:

  • Race.
  • Color.
  • Sex.
  • Disability.
  • Age.
  • Religion.
  • National origin.
  • Ancestry.
  • Familial status in housing.
  • Military status.
  • Marital status, for credit only.
  • Retaliation.

Statute of Limitations

The Civil Rights Commission has statutes of limitations of six months from the act of discrimination for public accommodation, credit or disability in higher education complaints; one year for housing complaints; and two years for employment complaints. All charges must be filed within those periods following the last occurrence of discriminatory harm.

Filing a Complaint

A complainant can file the form online or by mail. In the complaint, the individual should provide:

  • Name, address, email address and phone number of the person filing.
  • Dates of discrimination.
  • Name, address, county, phone number, total number of employees, date of hire and position held or sought of the employer.
  • Reason for the discrimination, such as race or color.
  • Statement of facts that explains why the employer’s actions constitute an unlawful discriminatory practice.

The complaint must also state the type of discrimination, including:

  • Demotion
  • Denial or failure to hire.
  • Layoff or denial of recall.
  • Discharge or termination.
  • Constructive discharge or forced termination.
  • Denial of promotion.
  • Different terms and conditions of employment.
  • Discipline.
  • Harassment or sexual harassment.
  • Denial of reasonable accommodation or unequal pay based on sex only.

If the complaint is submitted by mail, the form must be signed by the complainant and acknowledged by a public notary. A person eligible for, receiving services from, or benefiting from programs funded by or through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) are protected by laws and rules against unlawful discrimination.

Filing Complaints Against ODJFS

A person who has been discriminated against by a program funded by or through ODJFS may submit a written complaint using ODJFS’s Bureau of Civil Rights (BCR) discrimination complaint form. On the form, the person should provide:

  • Name, address and phone number.
  • If filing for someone else, that person’s name, address and phone number.
  • Basis on which the person was discriminated against, such as race, age, color, national origin, citizenship/participant status, religion, ancestry or sex.
  • Race and sex of the complainant.
  • Agency that discriminated against them and address in the county in which it is located.
  • Program or services area, such as health services or child support.
  • Names and titles of the people that discriminated against the person.
  • Date of discrimination.
  • Working or training site where the person who suffered the discrimination was working.
  • Date the complaint was written.
  • Complainant’s signature.

The complaint must also include an explanation of why the complainant believes that the treatment or incident they experienced was due to their race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, political affiliation or belief. Workforce Investment Act (WIA) participants, must state their citizenship/participant status.

The person is required to file their complaint within 180 days of the date when the discrimination occurred. They should send their complaints via mail or fax to ODJSF’s Bureau of Civil Rights, 30 East Broad Street, 30th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215-3414.