Seeking Legal Advice for Unpaid Wages?
Ask an Employment Lawyer
If you are a worker who is having problems being paid fairly by your employer, there are steps you can take to try to recover all the money that is owed to you. While there are both federal and state laws in place to help workers get paid the money they not only earned but were promised, employment laws can be very complicated and often change depending on where you live. You may want to contact an employment attorney to make sure you know your rights and the steps you can take to recover your wages.
What Can I Do About Unpaid Overtime?
If you have worked overtime and have not been paid, you may be able to file a complaint with the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD). Each state has its own Wage and Hour Division office. You can find a list of states offices here:
Filing a complaint with the WHD is free and confidential. Your employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a complaint with the WHD. If you are an employee covered by the Fair Wage Standards Act (FSLA), you may file wage claims within two years of wage violations and within three years for willful violations.
If you believe you are owed wages, you may file a complaint with the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, even if you are an undocumented worker. To file a complaint, you will need to submit:
- Your name, address, and phone number
- The name and address of the company where you worked
- The company phone number
- The name of the manager or owner
- A description of the type of work you did
- How you were paid
- When you were paid, i.e., weekly, monthly, etc.
- Additional information such as pay stubs and records of hours worked or any other information to help show that you worked overtime hours would be helpful.
Specific rules about overtime for workers are found in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under this federal law, employees who work above a 40-hour work week must be paid time and a half. While some jobs are considered exempt from being paid overtime, most workers are entitled to receive one hour and a half of their normal pay rate for each hour worked over 40 hours in a workweek. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all states follow the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Some states have more strict laws than others. It is best to check with your local state labor office or your local Wage and Hour Division to obtain more information about overtime rules in your area.
What if My Paychecks are Not Clearing?
Sometimes an employee may perform work and get paid, but the check does not clear. As an employee, it is a good idea to keep detailed records of hours you worked for your employer and any pay stubs and bank notices stating that a check had bounced or there were insufficient funds. In addition, also keep track of any penalties you may have been charged as a result. In case there is a problem with a check clearing, these records will be useful in bringing the situation to your employer’s attention to make sure there was no error made by your payroll department or by the bank.
However, if you discover that your employer is withholding your pay, you can file a complaint with the FLSA. It is the responsibility of your employer to pay you at least the minimum wage for any hours that you have worked. Employers also have the responsibility to make sure they have enough funds in the bank to cover payroll. Some states have bounced paycheck laws to help make sure employers pay their employees in a timely manner.
Misclassifying Workers to Avoid Overtime
Misclassified employees lose the benefits of overtime compensation that is required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Because of misclassification of employees, businesses are not required to pay overtime to employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek. An employer may treat a worker as an independent contractor instead of as an employee and therefore avoid having to pay overtime. An employer may also double classify an employee as a fulltime employee during the normal 40 hour work week, and then classify the employee as an independent contractor when they are working overtime. When this happens, it is called “misclassification”. If you filled out a W-2 and a 1099 form, there is a chance that you are being doubly misclassified and owed back pay.
If you are misclassified as an independent contractor, you may lose the rights to which you are entitled as an employee. An employer may not classify you as an independent contractor without a reason. If you believe you have been misclassified, you can contact your state labor office or the Department of Labor to obtain information and requirements for filing a complaint.
Recovering Back Wages for Unpaid Labor
Employers are legally responsible for paying their employees for all hours worked on a regular basis. Federal and state laws include rules about when employees should get paid as well as how often. If your employer fails to pay you on time or fails to pay you the amount that was agreed upon, there are steps you can take to recover what is owed to you. Different states have different minimum wage laws. Not all state regulations are the same. In order to be fully informed about employee rights in your state, it is best to contact your state labor office to find out more information. A list of labor offices for each state can be found here.
Employment laws are complex and not all state employment laws are the same. An experienced employment attorney will know the laws that will help you understand your rights as an employee as well as your employer’s responsibilities in paying fair and timely wages. While you can file a claim with the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), there are many rules and regulations that are particular to the state in which you live. An experienced employment attorney in your state can help you navigate the labor laws so that you can recover all of the wages that you have earned.
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