How Long Can a Wage Theft Settlement Take?

If you have been the victim of wage theft and you are either thinking about filing a claim or are in the middle of a claim, you might be wondering how long it will be before you see a payout - either through winning the case or by taking a settlement.

The reality is that wage theft claims can take a long time to pass through the justice system. Federal courts are busy and there can be weeks, or even months, between hearings. Your case can take upwards of one to two years, which can take a major toll on you as you deal with the lawsuit. Even when you have a strong wage theft claim, your employer (and your employer’s attorneys) will work hard to fight the case and the more they fight, the longer it will be before you see any money.

With wage theft cases, you need to make sure that you have strong evidence to support your claim. Wage theft includes not being paid overtime, not being paid minimum wage, not being paid for the total number of hours worked, not receiving a final paycheck upon leaving a job and not being paid at all.

If you have been the victim of wage theft, your evidence will be key. Having solid evidence could help determine how long your case could last. You should also consider speaking with an employment attorney to understand the wage theft settlement process.


Your employer could choose to offer a settlement deal at any point in your case. Given that many wage theft court cases may last a year or two, a settlement can be a way for your employer to cut costs. Not only will it save them from paying legal fees for a lengthy case, but their settlement might not be as much as you could be awarded should you end up winning the case.

The benefit of accepting a wage theft settlement is that you will receive your payment much sooner than you would if you wait for the outcome of a trial. Upon reaching a settlement deal, you will receive your payment shortly thereafter. 

Taking a settlement is advantageous for anyone who does not want to be locked in a legal battle for years. If the amount offered is acceptable, you can make the whole situation go away by taking the settlement deal.

However, it is important to consider whether the settlement is a good idea. Your employer will likely make a low offer initially, and a judge or mediator will help ensure that the deal is fair.

Having an employment attorney working on your behalf can help you to navigate the situation so that you receive the best settlement possible. Your attorney will also be able to advise you as to whether taking the deal is a good idea, or if the timing is right.

Importance of Evidence

Employers may fight as hard as they can to make sure that they do not lose wage theft cases, even when they know they are in the wrong. Offering a settlement is a way for them to make the case “go away” so that a verdict is never reached.

The settlement in a wage theft case is based upon evidence. If you have a strong case, especially if you believe that your evidence is strong enough to help you win your case, then your employer’s settlement offer will have to be enough to make you accept it even though you might end up with more money if you won the case.

Evidence is everything. The stronger your evidence, the better the settlement deal.

With wage theft cases, much of your evidence will come through pay stubs, paychecks and examples of digital wage theft such as time shaving or being clocked out for breaks that were never taken. If you have a pay stub that shows you were not being paid minimum wage, or that you were robbed of your hours, then that helps build a strong case.

You should consider speaking with an employment lawyer to make sure that you have the evidence you need to support your case.

How an Attorney Can Help

There is no guarantee that hiring an employment attorney will lead to a victory in your case or that it will lead to a better settlement. Having an experienced expert working on your behalf will greatly improve the chances of getting the biggest settlement possible.

An employment attorney will be able to look at your evidence and make sure that you have everything you need for a strong case. If a settlement deal is offered, your attorney will be able to offer guidance as to whether or not you should take the deal.

Many employment attorneys work on a contingency basis, so you will not have to pay any fees upfront and will only pay if you win your case, so there is very little risk in hiring an attorney to help with your case. Some require payment upfront, so discuss payments with a potential lawyer.

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