How Much Can I Sue My Employer if They Didn’t Pay Me?

Wage theft is commonplace throughout the country, but the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows employees to file complaints with the Wages and Hours Division (WHD) in their state without fear of retaliation from their employer.

If you believe you have been a victim of wage theft, the first step to a wage theft claim is to take the matter up with HR.  You will have to provide sufficient evidence to prove the underpayment has taken place before you compile a complaint letter.

What Evidence You Need When Reporting to HR

There are several pieces of evidence you can include with your letter to your HR which are:

  1. Copies of your pay stubs covering several pay days.
  2. Your timesheet showing your hours of work.
  3. Employment agreement, either by letter or contract document.
  4. Co-workers’ pay stubs showing the discrepancy in pay.

Copies Of Your Pay Stubs Covering Several Pay Days

A pay stub is part of a paycheck that lists all the details about the employee’s pay. It typically itemizes the wages earned for that pay period and the total year-to-date.

The pay stub should also show tax and any other deductions taken out of the employee’s pay. The pay stub should show the net amount, which is what the employee actually receives. Many states make providing pay stubs compulsory.

If you review your pay stub when you receive it you can make sure you were paid the amount expected as well as checking the deductions.  Using a pay stub is a way to settle any discrepancies with your HR or employer.

There are several details included on a pay stub to help you and your employer keep track of payments and deductions. These are:

  • taxes, deductions, and contributions;
  • net pay;
  • gross wages.

If you have a few pay stubs and they all seem to show different amounts this is the evidence you can use when writing a complaint of underpayment to your employer.


A timesheet records the hours that you have worked and it calculates the amount you might be owed by your employer. It includes overtime pay calculations at a rate of one and one-half times (1.5) the regular rate of pay for all hours you work over 40 in a single 7day working week.

Employment Agreement

Under U.S. employment law, most companies do not enter into any sort of contract with most of their employees. Because providing a contract is not compulsory in most U.S. states, the law defines the employer to employee relationship as 'employment at will'.

If you do have some sort of written agreement regarding your pay you can use these as evidence if you believe you are a victim of wage theft.

Co-Workers’ Pay Stubs Showing the Discrepancy in Pay

Co-workers are a good source for evidence proving wage theft, particularly if you do the same job, providing they are being paid the same rate as you.

What to Expect When Reporting Wage Theft to HR

What should happen when reporting to HR is that you will either not hear anything at all, or the HR administrator will admit a mistake has been made and will promise to repay the wage theft, or your complaint will be disputed.

If nothing happens or your HR disputes your wage theft you can move on to the next step if you believe your evidence is sufficient proof that you have been a victim of wage theft. 

The next step is filing a complaint with the WHD and you should include the information below with your complaint:

  • your name;
  • your phone number and address;
  • the name of the company which employs you;
  • location of the company if different from your workplace;
  • the company’s phone number;
  • your manager name and contact details;
  • your job with the company;
  • when and how you were paid (e.g., by cash or check, weekly every Friday).

You can also include all the evidence proving your wage theft that you provided with your complaint to HR. This includes pay stubs, personal records you have kept of the hours worked, your timesheet (if available) and co-workers’ testimonials showing you have been a victim of wage theft.

Find Assistance With Your Wage Theft Claim

Proving wage theft is never easy, so contacting an employment attorney may offer you a better chance of reclaiming your wage theft. Use the free case evaluation below to find a suitable attorney near you.

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