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    On January 1, 2007 Ohio’s new minimum wage law went into effect.  This law raised the minimum wage to $6.85 per hour with built in yearly increases.  Every year, the minimum wage changes to reflect the rate of inflation for the past twelve months.  The current minimum in Ohio  is $7.00 an hour.  This new legislation is not without exceptions, but imposes stiff penalties for employers who fail to comply.

     An employee who brings suit against his employer for failure to comply with Ohio’s minimum wage law is entitled to back wages, damages equal to an additional two times the back wages, and the employee’s cost and reasonable attorneys’ fees in bringing the suit.  Employers who retaliate against employees for asserting their rights under the minimum wage law also face automatic punitive damages.  Retaliating employers must pay damages in an amount “sufficient to compensate the employee and deter future violations.”  This amount may not be less than $150 for each day the violation continues. 

     The law makes exceptions for employees under the age of sixteen and employees of small business.  However, even as to these employees, employers must comply with the federal minimum wage ($5.85 with an increase to $6.55 on July 24, 2008) and will face penalties under Ohio law for failing to do so.  Other exceptions to the law include tipped employees and family members working for family owned businesses.

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