Many employees have a dispute over unpaid wages or are simply trying to figure out why their employer refused to pay them for all hours worked. There could be any number of reasons why the employer claims you were not paid, but most of them are not violate the wage laws.
While some limited exceptions exist, employers must pay employees for any time you work, you are owed worked whether at the worksite or away from it. Employers must legally compensate employees for all hours worked including straight time and overtime.
6 Common Questions About Unpaid Wages
It is very unfortunate, but employers try to get away without paying their employees what they are owed. Often, employers believe their employees don’t know or won’t do anything about it. Both are often true.
1. Why Won’t My Employer Pay Me?
Perhaps you are trying to claim overtime or there are deductions from your wages that you don’t understand. There are many ways management will try to get out of paying their employees.
Perhaps they are not paying you for:
- Your meal periods
- Extra hours you worked
- Wages promised for extra time
- Some sort of punishment
Regardless of the reason, you are legally entitled to all the time you work. Discuss it with payroll or management first, then seek more professional help.
2. I Never Received Wages for my Leave
Perhaps you were off sick, having a baby, or off for other reasons that may or may not be related to the job. If you are entitled to benefits and sick leave, then you may need to be compensated for your leave time.
There are differing policies regarding paid leave, so make sure you are familiar with your company’s rules regarding paid leave. Unpaid wages for a legal leave are still owed on time.
3. Can I Still Get My Wages After I Was Fired?
Yes. Your employer must pay you for all hours you work before you leave the job, whether you voluntarily leave or the employer asks you to leave.
4. How Do I Get The Unpaid Wages?
Start within the employer if you feel comfortable talking with management or Human Resources. Talk to management or payroll to see if there was a mistake. You do not need to first contact your employer about unpaid wages before you make a labor board claim or contact an employment attorney.
You have several options to file a claim with the government to collect unpaid wages. You can contact the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor (DOL) and file a complaint. The DOL investigates unpaid wage cases. The DOL can help you get your unpaid wages, but the DOL is often very difficult to contact, the DOL takes a long time to pursue claims, and the DOL generally gets you less wages than an employment attorney.
5. Will I Get Fired If I File a Complaint?
It is illegal for the employer to fire or take any other adverse action against any employee who files an unpaid wages complaint. You should immediately contact an employment attorney if the employer fires you or otherwise disadvantages you for filing a wage complaint.
6. Should I Sue?
Filing a lawsuit against your employer is likely the only way you will receive your unpaid wages. You should contact an employment lawyer to discuss filing a claim for your unpaid wages..
An employment lawyer will help you understand your rights and may be able to get you more money than just the unpaid wages. You may be entitled to additional unpaid wages damages, interest, and attorney’s fees depending upon the state in which you work.
Do not settle for not receiving what you are legally entitled to from your workplace employer. Unpaid wages are often wage theft, and it happens all too often. Take a stand and get what you deserve.