How Long Do I Have To File For Unpaid Wages

If you have been the victim of wage theft, you will want to pursue a claim against your employer to recover compensation to take care of your lost wages. There are federal and state wage theft laws in place to protect most workers from wage theft.

Unfortunately, many employees have been the victim of wage theft for quite some time before they realize it. Time is limited for pursuing a claim and recovering lost wages.

If you review your files and believe that you have been the victim of wage theft, you only have a limited amount of time to report the incident. If you wait too long, you will not be able to recover your lost earnings or ask for compensation for your damages.

You should maintain a detailed file that contains all the supporting evidence and documentation that you would need to proceed with such a claim.

Time Limit For A Claim Under FLSA

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prohibits wage theft and establishes strict employment laws. Under the FLSA, you would have two years to file your claim against your employer. If you wait longer than two years you cannot recover compensation for your damages.

The FLSA creates minimum wage, sets overtime pay at time-and-a-half for hours in excess of 40 hours per week, and prohibits most employers from using minors in oppressive child labor acts.

If an employer violates the FLSA, then they can face harsh penalties. There are fines and the employee can seek civil remedies but repeat offending employers could end up facing jail time.

If your employer willfully and knowingly stole your wages, then you may have as much as three years to file your claim. In that case, you will need to prove that it was willful. A willful violation is one that the employer knowingly failed to comply with the legal requirements.

This was a purposeful disregard to the law, and the employer chose to act with indifference to the safety of their employee or employees.

Your supporting evidence and documentation will help determine if your employer’s actions are willful and intended. You should always keep work-related memos, emails, contracts, handbooks, and documents handy.

Maintain copies of paystubs and timesheets so you can make sure you are being paid properly. Documentation is essential to a successful wage theft claim. Be sure to notify your employer of any discrepancies and be sure to document those discussions as well.

Time Limit Under State Law

While the federal laws apply to employers across the country, many states have additional employment laws in place that apply to employers in their locale as well. These time limits – or statute of limitations – vary greatly from one state to the next, but you need to make sure that you are aware of the state laws and act accordingly.

As an example, in New Jersey state laws allow a two-year statute of limitations for pursuing minimum wage violations and you have up to 6 years for pursuing overtime wage violations. You should check your state employment laws to make sure you don’t miss any important deadlines.

You will want to make sure that you have all the supporting evidence that you need to get your claim on track and that you file all the proper complaints before the deadlines.

An employment law attorney in your state will be familiar with both state and federal laws and will make sure that your claim is filed in a timely manner. As soon as you suspect wage theft, enlist the help of an attorney to determine your situation and the best way to proceed.

How An Employment Law Attorney Can Help

If you believe that your employer has stolen your wages, you should act promptly. Get an attorney who handles employment law claims in your state. Employment law attorneys are familiar with the claims process and all the applicable laws.

Each of these claims can vary greatly, so you will need to talk with a lawyer who can determine the best way to proceed with a claim and advise you on the specific details of your case.

Remember that time is of the essence, so complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page and share the details of your wage theft claim with an attorney who handles similar cases in your area. Don’t delay filing a claim and recovering compensation for your lost wages. Wage theft victims do have legal resources available.