You worked overtime with the promise of being paid on your next pay period or a later date. But your next pay period comes—and the pay period after that—and you have yet to be paid for your work. Eventually, you realize that you may never be paid for the work you did—what can you do?
If this happens to you, you have an unpaid wage claim on your hands. The same is true for employees who are not paid the minimum wage amount in their state. When this happens, it is referred to as unpaid wages. Often, a company will pay their employees the federal minimum wage. Unfortunately for them, many states have different rates for this, and if the company is located in a state with a different minimum wage than the federal precedent, they must follow the states wage rates. Not complying with this will cause many issues and many unpaid wage claims.
Those who are tipped employees, like a waiter or waitress, have a lower minimum wage. But, there is still a set wage in each state and employers must pay that by law, no matter how much their employees tips amount up to. If an employer fails to pay the employee their base salary, that is also grounds for an unpaid wage claim.
And while unpaid wages are somewhat common, unpaid overtime is much more prevalent. Some states may have their own laws, but the federal law states that all employees (who are eligible) must be paid overtime if they work over 40 hours in one work week. An eligible employee is usually an hourly employee who is nonexempt. If you are unsure if you are eligible for overtime, be sure to ask your boss or HR department before starting a claim.
If you are eligible and you have not received overtime, you should first try to figure out how much you are owed. The law states that overtime hours must amount to time and a half of your usual pay. Add up all the overtime hours you worked and logged, and add in the extra dollar amount for those hours. This final number will give you, your attorney and your employer a better idea of how much is owed and how dire the situation is.
Unfortunately for your employer, once a claim is filed, it usually isn’t as easy as paying the employee what is owed. Some states have a liquidated damages clause, which means that your employer must pay you what you owe, plus another payment equal to what you owe for liquidated damages. This means that they will end up paying you double. This occurs only after you file a claim and your employer fails to pay you after 15 days, and usually involves a court case.
If you are not getting paid for overtime hours or your proper wage, it’s best to get an attorney involved as soon as possible to resolve the issue before it gets out of hand. At Stewart & Stewart, we are experts in unpaid wage claims and will walk you through every step to ensure you get the money you deserve. Give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website for more information.