It can be devastating when you realize that you’re underpaid. At a time when every penny counts, you more than deserve to be legally compensated for all hours you work.
Your wage dispute may be because of internal errors that are easily rectified, but often employers intentionally and knowingly underpay employees. Illegal wage practices are common and affect thousands of hardworking employees each month. But, you can take legal steps to recover your unpaid wages.
It’s important to be proactive. The sooner you take action, the better your chances of recovering unpaid wages.
First Steps When You Realize You’ve Been Underpaid
You should review any employment agreement or payment policies when you first notice your wages are incorrect. Check the agreed-upon wages against your pay stubs to confirm that your earnings are incorrect. Look for employer policies about overtime and bonuses to ensure you understand your rights. Employers often electronically post these policies.
Collect documents like timesheets and pay stubs that reflect your underpaid wages. You should also look for any arbitration agreement or arbitration policy you may have signed. Employers try to sneak arbitration agreements past employees and have them sign them in the pre-employment paperwork. Employers may also include arbitration policies in the employee handbook.
You can meet with your employer to discuss the underpayment if you feel comfortable doing so. There may have been a clerical error that can be resolved amicably. You can consult an employment attorney if your employer is resistant to paying you the wages you earned or if you feel more comfortable talking to an employment attorney.
Contacting an Employment Attorney
An employment attorney can help you understand the minimum wage and overtime requirements based on your circumstances and state. The attorney can assess the strength of your claim and guide you through the process of filing a wage claim.
Many employment attorneys offer a free consultation. You can make the most of that time by asking questions.
Here are some questions to ask an attorney when you realize you’re underpaid.
- Do I have a valid wage claim?
- What are the wage payment laws in my state, and how can they protect my rights?
- How much time do I have to submit an unpaid wage claim?
- Do I need evidence to support my claim?
- How do I file a wage claim?
- What happens if my lawsuit is unsuccessful?
- What will filing a wage claim and using your services cost?
- Do you have experience in successfully pursuing unpaid wage claims?
Common Wage Violations Resulting in Underpaid Employees
If your employer has committed one illegal wage practice, the employer might be involved in others. Here are some ways an employer may cheat you out of your hard-earned money.
You Were Told To Work Off the Clock
If your employer asks you to perform tasks before or after a shift without signing in to the timekeeping system, you are not being paid for that work.
You are Not Being Paid Overtime
According to the federal overtime law, the Fair Labor & Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), all employees, except those employees whom the FLSA specifically exempts from overtime, must receive additional compensation (time and a half their regular rate of pay) for all work performed beyond the 40-hour weekly threshold.
An employment attorney can help you understand the overtime pay requirements of your position and enable you to claim unpaid overtime.
You Earn Less Than Minimum Wage
Employers must pay employees the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Many states have much higher minimum wage requirements. If your employer pays you less than minimum wage, you are entitled to file a wage case.
You Have Been Intentionally Misclassified
Your employer may have categorized you as an independent contractor or an exempt employee to avoid providing benefits and overtime pay. You can recover unpaid overtime and other money damages if your employer misclassifies you.You Have Been Intentionally Misclassified
Your Pay Stub Has Illegal Deductions
In most states, your employer must obtain prior written authorization before deducting anything from your paycheck. You generally should not have deductions for things like uniforms and tools on your pay stub.
Contact Rowdy Meeks Legal Group LLC to Assess Your Wage Claim
When you realize your wages are incorrect, you should take action to receive all the pay for every hour you work.
If you realize you’re underpaid, contact Rowdy Meeks Legal Group LLC for a free case evaluation.