If you have a claim against your employer for wage theft, you will need to file a claim with the Wage and Hour Division. The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor is the federal office that is responsible for enforcing federal labor laws. The Division was formed when the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was enacted. It has more than 1,700 employees with the goal of promoting and achieving compliance with the federal labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workers.
Reports indicate that more than $1 billion in wage theft takes place every year. Unfortunately, many of these incidents are not noticed in time to pursue a claim, or the workers are hesitant about taking action because of fear of retaliation. However, there are laws on your side to protect you from such behavior.
What Can You Do To Prepare A Wage Claim?
To succeed with your wage theft claim, you need hard medical evidence and supporting documentation. You need to document everything and include a copy of your evidence when you file your claim. Here are some examples of supporting documentation that can help you with your wage theft claim:
- Work logs with dates and times that you worked
- Pay stubs
- When you took breaks
- Your employment contract
- The employee handbook
- Other work-related documents, such as memos, emails, texts, and so forth
Statements from coworkers who can confirmed when you worked, and your hours can also be helpful. You should always document the time that you work, along with the breaks. You will need backup if a time sheet gets misplaced or if a timecard is lost.
Timespan For A Wage Claim
You have a limited time, which is called a statute of limitations, to pursue a claim if you have suffered wage theft. Usually, you have 180 days from the date of the incident to pursue a claim. If you wait longer than that, you will not be able to pursue a claim and you cannot recover compensation for your damages. It is imperative that you pay attention to your pay and keep track of your time worked so you can catch any discrepancies that indicate wage theft early on.
You should gather all the documentation and file your complaint with the Wage and Hour Division. You should keep a copy of the complaint along with proof that it was filed, so send it by certified mail or overnight courier. The Wage and Hour Division will then go over the evidence and investigate your claim. They will determine how to proceed and will gather any other supporting evidence and documentation that may be available.
The division will then make a decision on your claim. A decision letter will be sent to you and a letter will be sent to your employer. Your employer will have 10 business days to respond to your complaint. The more proof that you have to back up your claim, the more likely you are to prevail and have a successful claim in which damages are recovered.
How A Wage Theft Attorney Can Help
If you have suffered wage theft, you do have resources available. The laws are on your side, and you can pursue a claim to recoup compensation that covers the damages that you suffered. Your damages may include your lost wages, interest, and any mental anguish or stress that you incurred. Also, the employer may face penalties from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Wage and Hour Division for intentionally and purposefully breaking the laws. Repeat offenders face harsher penalties and could even see jail time.
An attorney who practices employment law is familiar with the state and federal laws that apply to the situation. You should go over the payment process with the lawyer because some employment law attorneys do require a retainer in advance and others will take the case on a contingency basis, which means that they will not be paid until they have won your claim and you are compensated for your damages.
Remember that time is of the essence, so don’t wait until it is too late to recoup your losses. Be proactive and complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page today, so you can make sure your claim is handled timely and efficiently. If your employer has stolen your wages, odds are they have a pattern on that behavior. Get your wage theft claim underway today.
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