What Are My Rights Against Wage Theft?

Wage theft is something that can happen to an employee at any business or corporation in any field or industry.

If you are not being paid properly, you should immediately report your concerns about wage theft to your company’s Human Resources department.

Wage theft includes not receiving minimum wage, not receiving overtime, not being paid for all hours worked, not being paid at all and not receiving a final paycheck upon leaving a job. If any of these things have happened to you, then you need to act quickly.

If you suspect that you are a victim of wage theft, the first step is to notify your company’s Human Resources department so that they can open an investigation into the matter.

Reporting Wage Theft to Human Resources

The Human Resources department is your first line of defense when you have trouble at work. If you suspect that you are not being paid properly, you need to notify HR immediately.
You should submit a written notice to HR so that there is a paper trail to follow should you need to go to the next step and file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD).

Make sure you don’t delay reporting the wage theft because the longer you wait, the harder it is to find evidence to support your claim, especially if the people involved leave the company.

You also don’t want the situation to keep happening. If you’re not being paid for overtime but you are asked to work overtime again and again, you want to be sure the problem is solved before it gets worse.

As you prepare your letter to HR, make sure you review your company’s policies on payments and wage theft so that you can document your situation in greater detail.

What You Need To Include When Notifying HR

When you document your initial wage theft claim to Human Resources you need to include as much evidence as possible so that HR can launch an investigation.

You need to send it to all interested parties, including HR and company leaders who should receive notification. It is a good idea to send your letter via certified mail so that you have proof of delivery and a receipt that will serve as a timestamp of when you sent your formal letter.

Your letter should be very detailed. Here’s a template you can follow that covers everything you should include in your letter:

  • Subject Line
    • Make sure your subject is immediately clear. “Official complaint of wage theft” will grab attention and make it clear that you are filing a complaint.
  • Addressees
    • Address your letter to the Director of Human Resources and any members of the management team who are involved
  • Body of the Email
    • Paragraph 1: Start by outlining your complaint. Include as much as you can about the wage theft incidents, including the date and time it occurred
      • Include copies of your pay stubs that highlight the wage theft
    • Paragraph 2: Indicate the steps you have taken to resolve the issue, including conversations with your supervisor (be sure to include the dates and times of those conversations) as well as the outcome of those conversations (if any)
    • Paragraph 3: If there is any other information that you believe will support your claim or prove that wage theft occurred, make sure you include it.
  • Final Words
    • Thank everyone for their help in looking into the matter

The most important thing to remember is that the tone of your letter should remain professional throughout. While there is no doubt that you are upset about not being paid, you need to remain calm through the process. The evidence will speak for itself, so make sure that you keep your feelings and emotions at bay when you notify HR.

How An Employment Law Attorney Can Help

Once you notify HR, the ideal scenario is that everything will be made right and you will receive any money owed to you.

However, if HR is pushing back against your claims or if they are telling you not to file a wage theft complaint, then you should consider hiring an employment law lawyer to help protect your interests and help you through the complaint process.

Hiring an employment attorney will not guarantee that you will win your wage theft complaint, but it can certainly increase the chances of a favorable decision.

There is a great deal of documentation needed to file the claim and it helps to have an expert working on your side.

Fill out the free evaluation form to learn more about how an employment law lawyer can help you.

Additional Resources