Getting Paid: What To Do If Your Employer Refuses to Pay You

If your former employer refuses to pay you, you have several options.

1.) You can write your employer a ‘demand’ letter.  In the letter, state that the law, Ohio Revised Code Section 4113.15 (A), requires employers to pay wages by the 1st day of the month which were earned in the first half of the previous month.  And pay wages by the 15th which were earned in the last half of the previous month.  If an employee is absent on payday the wages are to be paid on demand.

If an employee is not paid beyond thirty days after the regular payday, a court can find the employer to owe the employee an additional amount equal to 6% of the unpaid (and undisputed) claim or $200, whichever is greater.  ORC 4113.15(B). 

2.)  You can also file a claim with the Ohio Department of Commerce.   Contact the Ohio Division of Labor and Worker Safety at 614-496-9076.  You can get a complaint form online at  You could also contact the U.S. Department of Labor, Division of Wages and Hours at (866) 4-USWAGE.  

3.) Finally, you can sue your previous employer in Small Claims Court.  You can sue for up to $3000.00 in Small Claims Court.  The court is set up to be user-friendly to persons representing themselves. 

Your complaint must be filed in the court for the location where you worked, where you hired on or where your employer has a place of business.  To win your case, you will need to prove the amount your employer agreed to pay you and that you worked the hours.  Proof that you worked could come from your statement in court.  You will need more proof such as statements in court (not written) from your co-workers.  Other proof could be time records kept by you or your employer or other evidence. 

Sometimes employers counterclaim and argue that you owe them money for some reason.  Be prepared to present evidence about that too. 

Generally, a two-year statute of limitations applies to the recovery of back pay.  In the case of willful violations, a three-year statute of limitations applies.  That means you must file a complaint within that time frame.

Once you obtain a judgment from the court you will then have to pursue collection by filing for a debtor’s exam and for a bank attachment.

You may want to consult with a private employment law attorney for additional advice.

For more information, see  Fact sheet: Coverage under the FLSA
Ohio Dept of Commerce - Wage and Hour Complaint;
Ohio Dept of Commerce - Wage and Hour Complaint Instructions;



This article is meant to give you general information and not specific legal advice.
Prepared by Community Legal Aid Services, Inc. Updated April 2012.