Despite the strict laws enacted by states and on the federal level that are designed to protect workers, wage theft occurs often. If you have been the victim of wage theft, you will need to make sure you understand the process to pursue a claim against your employer so you can recover your lost earnings.
Your employer has violated your rights, and you have been mistreated. You will need to see if it was a mistake or an oversight, or if your employer has intentionally cheated you. Here is how the process for reporting wage theft in Georgia works.
What You Need to Know Before You File a Wage Theft Claim
If you believe that you have not been paid for all the wages that you have earned, you should familiarize yourself with the state and federal laws that apply to your situation. Also, be sure to review your employee handbook so you can understand how the process works. Before you file a lawsuit, or file a complaint with a government agency, you should speak with a supervisor or notify human resources of the problem and provide evidence and supporting documentation.
According to the laws in Georgia, an employee can file a private lawsuit against his or her employer if he or she has been paid less than minimum wage. This lawsuit can be used to recover past compensation, liquidated damages, fees, and other associated expenses.
As an example, a waitress must be paid minimum wage. If you do not receive enough tips for your wages to average out to at least minimum wage, your employer must make up the difference. If they fail to do so, you will need to maintain supporting documentation, including copies of timecards and pay stubs to show that you were not paid the wages that you were entitled to receive.
If your employer has willfully and knowingly stolen your wages or withheld your pay, they can face harsh penalties. They could face criminal prosecution and the first violation could lead to a fine of as much as $10,000 from the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor.
How To Report Wage Theft
If you have been the victim of wage theft in Georgia, you do have options when it comes to filing your claim. You can either file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, or you can go ahead and file a lawsuit against your employer if the matter was not properly addressed when you spoke with your supervisor and tried to resolve matters with your employer.
The Wage and Hour Division will investigate your complaint. You should give them copies of any evidence that you have that will support your claim. They will also speak with your employer about the matter and try to resolve the issue and ensure you are compensated for your lost earnings.
Regardless of whether you file a lawsuit on your own, or you initially file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division, evidence and supporting documentation are essential to the success of your Georgia wage theft claim.
Supporting documentation includes your employment contract, employee handbook, time sheets or timecards, pay stubs, witness statements, memos, emails, and texts and any documentation related to your work. You will need to show how much you are owed that have you have not been paid by your employer. You must prove that you are owed money by your employer and that they failed to compensate you for all you have earned.
Fill Out a Free Evaluation Form
If you have suffered wage theft in Georgia, you should enlist the help of an employment law attorney who handles wage theft claims in Georgia. With the help of an attorney, you may be more likely to succeed with your claim and recover your losses.
When you speak with a lawyer, go over their payment plans. Some attorneys do require a retainer to be paid upfront while others will work on a contingency basis, which means that they are not paid until you win your claim and recoup your damages.
You do have a limited time to pursue a claim after you have suffered wage theft. It is important to act right away, so you can be compensated fairly for your losses. Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form to share the details of your claim with an employment law attorney who takes cases in Georgia.