Many low-income people work, often at more than one job. Many workers do not receive the full, lawful benefit of that hard work. Legal Aid helps workers maintain the income they have earned from working, helps workers who have lost their job get unemployment compensation benefits, and helps people who are facing tax problems.
Work Matters We Handle
- Wage theft including unpaid wages, minimum wage violations and overtime violations
- Tax controversies, including Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) problems
- Unemployment Compensation
- Other employee rights
Employers must pay workers all of the wages that the worker has earned. Generally, a last paycheck should be paid on the next regularly scheduled payday.
Please see our Low Income Taxpayer Clinic page for information.
Legal Aid may be able to help you get your unemployment benefits, but we will need more information from you.
- Visit a brief advice clinic [internal link] or contact Legal Aid.
- Ohio Department of Jobs & Family Services
Office of Unemployment Compensation
In most cases, if you work over 40 hours in a work week then you should receive 1 ½ times your regular hourly rate of pay for all of the hours you worked over 40 for that week.
Please be aware of the following significant changes to the Unemployment Compensation program effective Saturday, April 7, 2012. As of this date, UC benefits will stop for some individuals who have been receiving them.
Ohioans can no longer receive Extended Benefits. Ohio recipients of Unemployment Compensation who are on Extended Benefits will NOT receive benefits after this Saturday, April 7, 2012. This group already received Tiers 1, 2, 3 and 4 of Emergency UC and was then approved for 20 weeks of Extended Benefits. Even people who were approved for 20 weeks of Extended Benefits will stop receiving payments as of April 7, 2012, regardless of whether they received all 20 weeks.
In addition, a person who exhausts Tier 3 benefits of Emergency Unemployment Compensation after April 7 will not be eligible to apply for Tier 4 benefits.
These changes are the result of federal legislation that extended, but reduced, these programs. Additional information is available at http://unemployment.ohio.gov.
The Office of Unemployment Compensation is doing automated phone calls to the individuals whose benefits will end on Saturday, and sending written notices along with information about other resources.
If you have questions about the loss of the Extended Benefits, you should call the unemployment processing center listed on your unemployment notices to ask if you qualify for regular unemployment benefits. Legal Aid will not be able to assist people whose benefits stop as a result of the Extended Benefits program ending.
The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland continues to assist low income UC claimants with unemployment appeals and issues. In general, individuals who believe their unemployment benefits are wrongly denied may request an appeal and call Legal Aid intake at 1-888-817-3777 to find out if they qualify for free legal assistance from our office.
When a person wants to file a civil case, the court requires that person to pay a filing fee to start the legal process. Also, a person who is a party to a case and wants to ask the court to do something by filing a “motion” or a “counterclaim” must also pay a fee. In order to fully participate in a legal proceeding, courts often require payment of many different costs and fees.
In many situations, you can file your documents in court without payment or with a lower payment if you also file a “poverty affidavit.” A poverty affidavit is a written, sworn statement that you are low income and do not have enough money to pay the fees. You will need to list your income, assets and dependents on the affidavit. Once you file a poverty affidavit in a case, the clerk will either not charge you any money or will only charge a small fraction of the normal fee to file most other documents in the same case.
You can complete a poverty affidavit at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, even if you are not represented by an attorney from Legal Aid. If you need a poverty affidavit, go to any Legal Aid office during normal business hours (note recent changes) and request the form from the receptionist. Be sure you also have the form notarized, which Legal Aid can do as well. You will need photo identification to have the poverty affidavit notarized.
After you complete a poverty affidavit, you must take it to the clerk of courts where your case is being heard. The poverty affidavit will only apply to that specific case. If you have another case at the same or a later time, you will need a second poverty affidavit. Also, in Ohio, the poverty affidavit allows you to file documents in a case without payment or with lesser payment but does not eliminate all fees. At the end of the case, you might still be responsible for some fees such as court costs.
This article was written by Legal Aid attorney Anne Sweeney and appeared in The Alert: Volume 29, Issue 1. Click here to read the full issue.
Many Ohioans struggle to find a job or housing after being convicted of a crime. Ohio’s law makers saw the difficulties faced by people with criminal records and passed a law (SB 337) in 2012 that allows more people to have their criminal records sealed.
When you seal an adult criminal record in Ohio, the record is not erased. Instead, the criminal record is hidden from the public and most employers. Some employers, such as those that hire nurses, nursing assistants, or child care providers, will still be able to see the record after it is sealed. It will always be available to judges and police officers.
Ohio’s new law generally allows people with the following number of convictions to seal their records:
- If you have one misdemeanor conviction.
- If you have two misdemeanor convictions.
- If you have one felony and one misdemeanor conviction.
- If you have one felony.
Some felony and misdemeanor convictions, such as DUIs, can not be sealed. If you want to know if you are likely able to have your record sealed, you can answer the questions at http://www.ohiolegalservices.org/public/legal_problem/reentry/expungement-eligibility-template/qandact_view.
Many people also have non-convictions that cause problems when looking for work or housing. Examples of non-convictions include cases that were dismissed, cases where you were found not guilty, cases that were “nolled,” or cases where the grand jury entered a “no bill.” Most people should be able to seal any non-conviction even if they have convictions that they cannot seal.
Some people who cannot seal their criminal conviction might want to apply for a “Certificate of Qualification for Employment” which gives employers and licensing boards the option of hiring a person previously barred from certain jobs. Your county court of common pleas and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections will have information about the application process soon.
The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland offers services for people who would like to seal their criminal convictions or non-convictions. If you want help sealing a record, you can call Legal Aid to find out if you are eligible for services at 888-817-3777.
This article was written by Legal Aid attorney Camille Gill and appeared in The Alert: Volume 29, Issue 1. Click here to read the full issue.