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How to Address Problems at Work. Ohio

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  • How to Address Problems at Work. Ohio

    I have a few questions, my girlfriend's work forces her to work, many times without a single break for a whole day 6-10 hours.
    Some other people at her workplace confirm the treatment, and complain that in their department they aren't even allowed to go to the bathroom.(this seems cruel) Now it would seem from what I have read that Federal and State law in Ohio don't mandate breaks, however holding your urine, can be hazardous to your health as history has shown us.

    My g/f is a cashier and every time a certain person counts her drawer supposedly it is short, but when anyone else counts it she balances. She has been a cashier for over 3 years and at one time worked with 80 percent of her work being cashing checks, she has never been short like this. She isn't allowed to verify it, and is forced to sign something saying that it was short and will come out of her check. She is given no recourse to check the validity of it being short.

    There are also hazardous circumstances at work that her coworkers said have been brought to management attention but don't get fixed. She took a photo of the hazardous area that has standing water on it in a dark hallway, because she has almost slipped many times of her short time there. It is the only way employees are allowed to enter work. She is afraid to address these problems because she just got this job, she really needs the job, and thinks that they will fire her or treat her unfairly. I tend to agree but is there anything she can do? As crazy as it sounds the rest of her job is great.

    She isn't protected by a union and Ohio being an at will state, seems to mean that her employer can have his way with her.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this.
    Please advise.
    Last edited by D4RK_4NG3L; 09-07-2009, 07:31 AM. Reason: gross gramatic error, and courtasy.

  • #2
    You are correct that Ohio law does not require either rest breaks or meal periods. However, OSHA guidelines require "reasonable opportunity" to use the restrooms. Unsafe conditions can be reported to OSHA or the state equivalent. It would be illegal to fire her because of such reporting.

    Ohio doesn't have any regulations regarding deductions from pay having to be authorized that I can find. Federal law doesn't either, but such unauthorized deductions cannot bring the employee below minimum wage for the workweek and cannot be deducted from overtime pay. Both MW and OT must, under the FLSA, be received "free and clear". This does not, of course, include deductions for taxes and other deductions required by law, or for deductions authorized by the employee such as insurance or charity contributions.

    You don't get to decide who answers a post and who doesn't. If I had seen that comment first, I wouldn't have responded at all, but I'd already looked up a couple of options.
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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    • #3
      Thank You

      I appreciate your response, and you point is duly noted, and my post edited to that effect.

      Is it better that she go to the appropriate agency if she is afraid from retribution within the company? I am an honest person and I like to take my gripes to people fairly first however, it seems that they could fire her for whatever reason they want just or unjust. Can she report it confidentially ?

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      • #4
        She can report it confidentially but it is unlikely that any regulatory agency will respond if she does; or if they do, they will make it a low priority. At the present time most if not all regulatory agencies, both state and Federal, are understaffed and underfunded; they are going to give priority to those complaints where they have a specific complaintant to respond to, not to anonymous tips that may or may not be justified. I'm not saying hers isn't - only that OSHA, the DOL, or whichever direction she decides to go can't know for certain that it is if they can't talk to her.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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        • #5
          She doesn't mind talking to the authorities.

          Its her work finding out it was her that blew the whistle, is what shes afraid of. Yes its true, that the law says they can't fire her for that, however Ohio is an at will state, so they can make up grounds to fire her and tie her up in court for 5 years till she wins her job back just for them to find another excuse. I may be exaggerating but I think you see my point.

          She is also concerned about being forced to sign the papers stating she was short when she doesn't believe or have a way to check that she is. She feels if she doesn't sign the papers they will suspend or fire her.

          Are those signatures considered, signing under duress since this is her only livelihood, and if she doesn't sign she may not be able to eat or have shelter?

          She really needs her job. Does that mean that she has to take unfair business practices because of that?

          I appreciate you all being so helpful. I am helping her draft a plan of action, that hopefully is both safe and fair for all involved.
          Last edited by D4RK_4NG3L; 09-07-2009, 10:42 AM. Reason: Clarification.

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          • #6
            We aren't going to disagree with the "whistleblower" protection issues you raise. Although judges see through this subterfuge by employers all the time, it is expensive and time-consuming to pursue

            She can be fired if she refuses to sign the paper stating her cash drawer was short. However, she can sign with the disclaimer "do not agree with the statement made herein" or something like that. And she should make sure she gets a copy after she's signed it.

            BTW, apology accepted.
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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            • #7
              Thank You

              Thank you.
              I will advise her to do just that sign with a disclaimer explaining the situation. Still weighing the options on the safety side of things. I know I sound like a broken record, however I do appreciate the time both of you have spent helping me.

              I hope you had a great holiday.
              Last edited by Betty3; 09-08-2009, 01:05 PM. Reason: removed link to tech website ad

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              • #8
                On the standing water issue, what caused it? Is it always there or was this a one time thing? Odds are it isn't an OSHA issue and I'm not sure why she took the picture, particularly if she isn't going to bring it to anyone's attention. Better idea would have been to get some paper towels and clean it up.
                I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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