Background: Internship in Ohio, USA with agreed upon stipend of $5,000 for the summer semester.

The following was sent as an email regarding payment in the contract:

Please ensure the student knows that the total amount of compensation will be $5,000 plus whatever you are supplementing the salary with from your own budget.

At the end of the summer, your department will receive a total amount of $5,000 as reimbursement for the salary expenses during the summer. Your department will be responsible for any expenses beyond the total, $5,000.

I'm missing $1,300 from my total stipend before taxes. When I asked about this issue with my supervisor, I was told:

My manager and I reviewed the information. Initially $500 was deducted to cover fringe benefits which is an expense the department has to pay for all employees. The remaining amount deducted was taxes, so there will not be any additional payments.

I didn't take any serious actions during the internship because I didn't want my supervisor to take it out on my grade for the internship but now I'm considering small claims court.

Question: What are my other options?


  • $3700 gross income for employment period.
  • W-2 Employee
  • Not part of a Union or had Equipment expenses
  • What does your contract say? Is it possible the amount your received was correct? – Neo Sep 20 '17 at 17:52
  • Added the contract to the question body. – LampPost Sep 20 '17 at 17:56
  • Who told you that you were missing 1300.00? – Neo Sep 20 '17 at 17:57
  • My paycheck that lists, Earnings Year to date before taxes and deductions. – LampPost Sep 20 '17 at 18:00
  • So your pacheck stub shows 3700 total gross income? – IDrinkandIKnowThings Sep 20 '17 at 20:48

Previous answer was completely revised to account for new information:

Talk to the person who sent you the email regarding the stipend and pull a hardcopy of the contract (that ALL parties signed). This will govern exactly how much you were supposed to be paid. The email doesn't count in terms of being a legally binding contract, but it would provide evidence in support of a $5000 stipend.

Exhaust your internal channels before you go external (lawyer, small claims court, etc.) as this will burn bridges. You've talked with your supervisor (whom talked with manager). If you are 100% certain that you are entitled to $5000, then inform them that you would like to consult with HR and the manager's boss.

Make sure you went over everything and am 100% that there isn't a reasonable explanation for the loss in pay. You don't want to find yourself in the wrong the bigger waves you make.

Lastly, since this is an educational institution, see if there is an ombuds office, they are an informal office to resolve disputes in lieu of litigation.

If you are serious about small claims, consult with a lawyer or legal clinic and know the details and ramifications of going down that route.

Another option is Ohio's Department of Commerce's Division of Labor and Worker Safety, Wage and Hour Bureau. and file a complaint.

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  • My Paycheck says: Earnings & Employer Ben 3,671.08 Yr to Date. This is before taxes. I understand I'm not getting 5000 in my pocket. – LampPost Sep 20 '17 at 18:04
  • Does it say "Gross earning" or "Net Earnings? Look for deductions (Federal, State, Local). Also look to see if you are a W2 or 1099 employee. The former means that you are an employee, the latter as a contractor (and pay more in taxes) which can explain the deductions. Also note, that in terms of taxes if you make below a certain amount in the US, when you file your taxes you can get that portion back. – Frank FYC Sep 20 '17 at 18:09
  • It doesn't say "Gross earning" but it definitely is. There is a separate listing for "Net Earning". I do not see anything listing whether I am W2 or 1099. Federal, Cincinnati, and Ohio Taxes are listed. – LampPost Sep 20 '17 at 18:18
  • Did you sign a W2 or a 1099 when you were hired? – Frank FYC Sep 20 '17 at 18:30
  • If taxes are listed and deducted, you are W-2. – John R. Strohm Sep 20 '17 at 18:43

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