Wage theft includes not paying the minimum wage, withholding overtime pay, or requiring off-the-clock work such as not being paid for preparation time. Billions of dollars in wages each year are saved by employers due to wage theft.
Fortunately, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has enacted wage and hour laws that most states, including Alabama, follow. This means if you have experienced wage theft which breaches these laws you may file a complaint for unpaid wages under the FLSA.
What You Need to Know Before You File a Wage Theft Claim?
Alabama follows the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour. Alabama does not have its own overtime laws, so the state follows the federal Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA), which requires employers to pay employees "premium pay" for hours worked of more than 40 hours per week.
"Premium pay" in Alabama is defined as at least 1.5 times an employee's normal rate of pay. Alabama does not have any laws regulating meal or rest break requirements.
If you earn tips as part of your compensation for working, your employer could pay you a minimum wage which is lower and could be as little as $2.13 per hour as long as you earn enough money in tips which brings your total pay by the hour up to no less than the full minimum wage.
You cannot file a wage/hour or labor standard’s claim in Alabama unless you have worked and not received your pay.
How to Report Wage Theft
The first step you take is contacting your employer about the unpaid wages. In some cases it is a genuine mistake which at least solves your unpaid wages claim as long as your employer has admitted the mistake and is prepared to pay the amount that is owed.
However, if your wage theft has been taking place for some time then there is a good chance it is deliberate wage theft. If your employer doesn’t agree with the wage theft then you have to move on to the second step.
You can file the complaint with the Wages and Hours Division (WHD) through the Department of Labor, which if it believes you have provided sufficient evidence that proves your wage theft it may pursue a complaint on your behalf.
This may to begin with involve mediation arranged between you and your employer. The Secretary of Labor within the Department of Labor may file a lawsuit for back wages on your behalf and an additional penalty which is called "liquidated damages," which could be an amount equal to the back pay if an employer behaved in a willful manner when engaging in wage theft.
If this fails, you may choose to file your own lawsuit in court with the help of an Alabama employment law attorney. There are time limits for filing unpaid wages claims which are normally 2 years unless there is proof your employer deliberately violated wages and hours laws and the statute of limitations in then extended to 3 years.
An employee may file a private lawsuit for back pay and an equal amount as liquidated damages, plus attorney's fees and court costs.
An employee is not permitted to file a lawsuit if s/he has already been paid back wages under the supervision of WHD or if the Secretary of Labor has already filed a lawsuit to recover the wages on your behalf.
Fill Out a Free Evaluation form
If you think you have been subject to wage theft by your employer, you should fill out a free evaluation form today so you can begin the process of filing a wage theft claim.
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