Win for Employers in Minimum Wage Case at Ohio Supreme Court

Ohio employers were dealt a big win last week in a 5-2 decision by the Ohio Supreme Court in Haight v. Minchak. The Court ruled that the exclusions and exemptions to the minimum wage requirement were not eliminated by the 2006 constitutional amendment increasing the minimum wage. The Ohio Chamber joined other business associations in filing a “friend of the court,” or amicus curiae, brief in support of the business involved in the case.

This case involved two outside salespeople for the Cheap Escape Company (CEC) whose pay was commission based. In 2012, the two filed a lawsuit against CEC and its owners alleging that they should have been paid minimum wage in accordance with the 2006 constitutional amendment, the “Fair Minimum Wage Amendment,” even though they had been properly paid their commissions.  The salespeople and their supporters argued that the exclusions and exemptions from minimum wage contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which are incorporated into Ohio Law, violated the Fair Minimum Wage Amendment.

In the end, the Ohio Supreme Court sided with the arguments put forward by CEC and the Ohio Chamber ruling that the definition of “employee” in the FLSA, and incorporated into Ohio law, does not conflict with the definition contained in the Fair Minimum Wage Amendment to the Ohio Constitution. Thus, the exemptions and exclusions to minimum wage contained in the FLSA, including those for outside salespeople, executive, professional, and administrative employees, are constitutional.

While this case centered solely on the outside salesperson exemption, all other exclusions and exemptions to minimum wage and overtime could have been at risk had the decision gone the other way–including employees who are exempt from overtime such as executive, administrative, and professional employees.

Fortunately for Ohio businesses, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the exemptions. Without this outcome, Ohio would be a less competitive state in which to own and operate a business. The Ohio Chamber works to make Ohio a more business friendly state and this decision furthers the economic competitiveness of our state for the benefit of all Ohioans.