Do I Have a Wage Theft Case?

Wage theft is something you don’t expect from your employer, but it can sometimes happen and unfortunately it is often deliberate. Annually, wage theft amounts to $50 billion and the victims are often lower paid workers. However, you know when your employer has underpaid you, or not paid you at all, so don’t let your employer get away with it. You should seek legal counsel to help you get back the wages that are rightfully yours.

Possible Violations for a Wage Theft Case

Wage theft comes in many forms and there are multiple reasons why an employer may be sued for wage theft such as:

  • failure to pay the statutory minimum wage;
  • not paying for break or lunch times;
  • getting employees to do off the clock work that is working outside statutory work hours;
  • not paying for vacation time;
  • not paying for overtime;
  • not paying for travel time related to the job.

The rules for the payment of wages are enforced by federal and state laws and regulations. If your employer has failed to pay you the full amount for your work and you choose to file a complaint you may be entitled to be compensated with penalties and, in some states, attorney’s fees, as well as getting back the wages you are owed.

If you believe you have a wage theft case under any of the above circumstances you should look for the compensation you deserve. You should ensure you have all the evidence to support your claim as this makes it easier to negotiate with your employer directly or if you need an employment lawyer to work on your behalf.

Remedies for Wage Theft

Because it is illegal across most states to conduct wages theft, you can file a lawsuit against your employer if it refuses to acknowledge that wage theft has taken place and will not reimburse you for the amount of unpaid wages. If you win a successful claim against your employer there is a chance of reimbursement for the following:

  • lost wages;
  • out of pocket costs;
  • legal fees;
  • emotional distress.

Lost wages is the wage theft that your employer has imposed on you and which will be repaid to you if you file a lawsuit. There are always out-of-pocket expenses that you may accumulate such as taking unpaid leave to go to court or discuss your lawsuit with your employment lawyer.

One of the commonest reasons for failing to complain or take action against your employer for wage theft is the fear of reprisal from your employer for lodging a complaint.

Attorney fees often pose problems for lower paid workers who have experienced wage theft. This doesn’t need to be the case as many employment law attorneys will work on a contingency fee basis typically if they think they can reach a favorable settlement for you.

There are other litigation costs such as fees for expert witnesses if you require them, filing fees and deposition costs. You may be able to get these included in your lawsuit.

How an Employment Lawyer Can Help

The first thing an employment lawyer will do is decide if your employer has violated any federal or state laws. Before assisting you with filing a lawsuit other solutions will be explored first.

You may be able to reach a solution by negotiating a settlement with your employer for a wage theft claim. An employment lawyer can look at the different options before an informed decision is reached.

If a lawsuit is the only way to recover your wage theft, your lawyer will include other features related to your wages theft claim, like compensation for your emotional distress, your legal fees and any out-of-pocket expenses you may be required to pay. This will help prove your claim. 

 Your employer will certainly have a lawyer taking on his/her interests so you should too. Before deciding on your course of action it is worth the money and time to discuss your case with an employment attorney and get a full evaluation of your potential legal claims, the ways you can use to get recovery, the damages that you could possibly recover and the costs and fees you will pay to pursue a claim.

Additional Resources