There are millions of workers across the United States who are the victims of wage theft every year. According to statistics released by labor organizations, more than $1 billion is taken from workers throughout the country every year. If you have been the victim of wage theft, there are resources available. You can file a claim against your employer to recoup compensation for your damages, such as lost wages and benefits.
When you file a claim, there are protections in place. Your employer cannot fire you just because you reported the wage theft. When you report unethical or illegal activities, you are considered a whistleblower. Whistleblowers are protected by state and federal laws. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) covers comprehensive issues that surround wage and hourly disputes in the workplace and matters pertaining to commissions, overtime, and unpaid wages as well as employee classifications and who is an exempt or non-exempt worker.
What To Do Next If You Have Been Fired For Reporting Wage Theft
If you are the victim of wage theft, odds are you have coworkers in the same situation. Unfortunately, many workers don’t realize they have suffered wage theft until much later. You have 180 days from the incident to pursue a claim, so if you wait too long you will not be able to recoup compensation for your damages, such as lost wages and benefits. You should always keep track of the hours that you worked and then compare it with your paycheck or paystub to make sure you are being paid all your earnings.
The FLSA sets protections in place, which allow you to file a formal complaint against your employer should you not be paid all the earnings that you are entitled to receive. If you are not paid the wages that you should be paid, then you should notify your employer of the discrepancy. This should be done by talking with human resources or your manager. You should keep proof of your notification to your employer, such as a copy of an email or a copy of the letter.
Be sure to indicate the date that you filed the complaint and be sure to document who received and their response. If the problem isn’t addressed within your employer, or if they allege that you are not owed the wages that you are entitled to receive, you should then contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to file a complaint. You can call an office to speak with an employee, and the employee will be able to guide you through the steps.
You will file your complaint with the EEOC either in person or by mail. You will need to provide supporting evidence and documentation to ensure that your claim is on solid ground and that you have legitimate grounds for your case. The EEOC will work to resolve the matter with your employer, and if they believe that the employer willfully and knowingly broke the law, they will suggest that you file a lawsuit against your employer and include all the damages that you have suffered.
If you are fired, and you have had positive employee reviews and have not been warned regarding other matters, or if your employer openly tells you that you should not have filed the wage theft complaint and then terminates you, you do have rights and there are resources available. The EEOC will help you with this aspect of the claim as well, and they will hold your employer liable for their violations. They can face harsh penalties – including fines. They can also face criminal charges for ongoing violations.
How An Employment Law Attorney Can Help
If you were terminated because you reported wage theft, you should speak with an employment law attorney in your area who handles such cases. With the help of a lawyer, you are much more likely to get your claim on track and prove that your employer has a track record of breaking state and federal laws and inflicting harm on its employees. You will need to ensure your rights are protected and by pursuing a claim, you are helping yourself as well as helping other employees who have suffered from the same treatment and you could be helping other workers avoid similar situations.
To enlist the help of an attorney in your area who is skilled in employment law matters, complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page. An attorney will review the details of your case and determine the best way to proceed with your claim.