Despite federal wages and hours rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which requires a minimum wage to be paid regardless of the state and a set amount for overtime pay, employers still engage in wage theft.
This is when the employer breaches wages and hours laws and fails to pay the minimum wage, fails to pay for all hours worked such as omitting preparation time, has not paid the required overtime rate for hours worked over 40 per week and in some cases fails to pay any wages at all.
Where to Report Wage Theft
The first place to report a wage theft is with your HR department. You should put your complaint in writing and back it up with evidence such as pay stubs and co-workers statements proving when you actually worked.
If this doesn’t work and your employer does not respond it is probably because the wage theft is deliberate so you will not get it paid unless you file a complaint.
The next step is contacting the Wages and Hours Division of the Department of Labor nearest to you. You will be asked to complete an unpaid wages form and submit it either by mail, or by visiting your local Labor Department office.
To ensure your complaint is dealt with quickly you should include all the information below on your wage theft form.
- Your name.
- Your address and phone number.
- Your employer’s address and phone number.
- The address where you worked if it isn’t the same as your employer’s address.
- Manager or business owner’s name.
- The type of work you did.
- When and how you were paid e.g. Friday every fortnight by check.
- Any more information you can provide, like pay stub copies, your own personal records showing the hours you worked, or any other information that explains your employers pay practices.
The third step is filing a lawsuit on your own in court for damages. If you win you should get your unpaid wages paid plus your attorney's fees and court costs.
An employee may not file a lawsuit if s/he has been paid back wages in accordance with Wage-Hour laws or if the Secretary of Labor is already in the process of filing a lawsuit on your behalf.
What Evidence to Have When Reporting Wage Theft
If you’re filing an unpaid wages complaint, you will need some key bits of information. You will need you and your employers name, address, and phone number plus the job description. You need to write a brief description of your view of the wage theft, including the dates and methods of violations.
After it’s complete you can either mail or hand in the information to the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. It is better to hand it in as this speeds up the process.
There is a statute of limitations in most states when a complaint involves wage violations. If your employer did not know he or she was violating the law the statute of limitations provides 2 years to file a claim.. If your employer knew s/he had committed wage theft the statute of limitations is usually 3 years.
Get Help Via Free Case Evaluation
It may seem simple enough to file a wage theft claim but to avoid any pitfalls with the claim it is advisable to speak with an employment law attorney before deciding how to file your wage theft claim.
Complete the free case evaluation and you may soon see that wage theft returned to you.