Do you think you have a claim for unpaid wages? What should you do to recover non payment of wages? Here are a few tips to address wage and hour violations.
First, hopefully you have been keeping track of how many hours you worked each day. If you have not been keeping track, start a journal or keep a calendar right away and try to recreate your work schedule in the past. Try to be as accurate as possible, but the law does not put the burden on you to be exact. In fact, your employer is supposed to be keeping accurate records of every hour you (and other employees) work. If it has failed to do so, you are free to estimate what you are owed. It is good, however, if you have some documents where you keep track of your hours should it be necessary to go to Court to recover your unpaid wages.
Second, you should carefully calculate the wages you think you are owed. Generally, the law requires employees to be paid for every hour worked and for every hour worked over 40 in any given week, the law requires employees to be paid one and one-half times their regular hourly rate. To calculate your unpaid wages, take the number of hours you worked and were not paid, and multiply it by the appropriate rate of pay. However, there are various exceptions to this general rule and time limits for how far back you can recover any unpaid wages. If you are unsure how to calculate your unpaid wages or whether you are in fact entitled to recover any unpaid wages, you should contact a wage and hour lawyer at Widman & Franklin.
Third, make a demand to your employer to pay you your unpaid wages, and the demand should be in writing. If you are still working for your employer, it can be intimidating and scary to confront your employer. However, the law protects against retaliation and if your employer fired you, you would have a wrongful termination claim. Your employer also cannot do other things to affect your employment in response to your demand to be paid correctly. There is nothing specific that needs to be included in your demand, nor does it have to be lengthy. Rather, you will want it to be a short, non-argumentative request for payment of your unpaid wages. You should also include a deadline for your employer to respond since every day that passes, you may be losing the ability to recover unpaid wages because of the time limits. If you are unsure how to draft a demand or what to say, contact one of our employment lawyers and we can help you.
Fourth, if your employer does not respond or simply refuses to pay you, consider suing for unpaid wages. Even if you think you do not have enough unpaid wages to justify the cost of filing a lawsuit, claims such as these can be brought as class and collective actions so that a lawsuit can be brought not just for you but also on behalf of other similarly situated employees. So, collectively, it may be cost effective to bring a lawsuit. You should also be aware that there is a possibility that you have waived (maybe even unknowingly) your ability to file a lawsuit to recover your claims. Employers bury arbitration clauses and class and collective action waivers in handbooks, employment applications and other policies which employees sign without understanding what they are agreeing to. If your employer has any of these clauses, you may be forced to bring your individual claims through arbitration rather than in a court of law. Before you meet with one of our wage claim lawyers, you should get a copy of any handbook or policy and procedure manual so that our employment attorneys can fully explain your options about filing a lawsuit.