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When They Don’t Pay Up: What Are Your Rights Pertaining to Unpaid Wages

Employers often take advantage of their employees by not paying in full, failing to pay on time, or failing to pay at all. This is a breach of the law. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that employers pay their employees at least the minimum wage and 1.5 times or more of the regular wage for time worked beyond the standard 40 hours.

The only exemption is for employees classified as “exempt.” And even for these exempt cases, employers must satisfy specific and very strict requirements before denying an employee payment.

What Happens If They Won’t Pay In Accordance with the Law?

If your employer won’t pay in accordance with the law, there are steps you can take as an employee. These include;

  1. Keep records of time worked

This should be the very first thing to do when it’s apparent that the employer won’t pay for work done. Bring a pen and paper to work and accurately record every hour worked. It might help to record the nature of the job too. Remember to record overtime hours and costs occurred due to the non-payment. These records can be vital in filing a claim in case the employer is unwilling to pay even after confrontation.

  1. Speak to the employer about it

Before you speak to the authorities about the situation, create time to talk to your boss about the situation. Sometimes failure to pay isn’t actually failure but rather a delay caused by a bank mistake or processing error. The employer should be able to clarify this. If this is the situation, the employer or bank might even offer to cover the additional expenses caused by the delays in payment.

  1. Report to your Union

This is one of the many benefits of signing up with a workers’ union. If you’re having issues with your employer, the union can step up and negotiate an amicable solution on your behalf. The good news is that nearly all industries have their own unions that have been granted wide-reaching powers by the federal government.

  1. File a complaint with FLSA

If the efforts of the union aren’t bearing fruit, you’re at liberty to file a complaint with the Department of Labor’s FLSA. The role of FLSA in such disputes is to push a non-paying employer to make up for the difference between what the employee was paid and what he/she ought to have been paid. This difference is commonly referred to as back pay.

  1. File a claim in a court of law

Situations arise where even the FLSA might not be able to get an employer to pay the back pay. If it comes to this point, you might be left with no other option but to contact a law firm such as Optimum Employment Lawyers to file a private suit in court. Employers who willfully violate minimum/overtime or FSLA laws are subject to penalties of between $1,000 and $10,000 for each violation. A second violation can result in imprisonment.

Wrap up

Always start from option one at the top and proceed downward. You should only file a private suit as an option of last resort.  

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