Before filing a complaint for non-payment of wages, there are several considerations you should think about. Here are our top five:
- Documentation: Ensure that you have adequate paperwork to support your claim. This includes pay stubs, timesheets, employment contracts, or any other evidence that demonstrates the hours worked and the amount owed to you. Having clear records will strengthen your case and make it easier to prove your claim.
- Communication: Before taking legal action, consider communicating with your employer. Send a note explaining the situation, the amount owed, and the deadline for payment. In some cases, this may resolve the issue without needing to escalate it further. It also may protect you in the event the employer retaliates against you for daring to raise the issue. Many states have protections against retaliation.
- Legal requirements and time limits: Familiarize yourself with the applicable employment laws in your jurisdiction. Your particular state, county or city may have specific rules and regulations regarding wages and non-payment disputes, and may have strict time limits for filing a non-payment of wages complaint. Understanding your legal rights and obligations will help you determine the appropriate course of action. If, for example, you wait too long to file your complaint, you may have no remedy.
- Available remedies: Research the available remedies for non-payment of wages in your jurisdiction. This may include filing a complaint with a government labor department or agency, initiating a legal action in court, or filing a claim in arbitration. And the remedies may include multiple damages, attorneys fees and costs, depending upon where you live or work. You should consult with an employment attorney to understand the potential outcomes and processes involved with each option to make an informed decision.
- Time and cost considerations: Assess the potential time and cost implications of pursuing a complaint. Legal processes can be time-consuming and may involve expenses such as court fees or attorney fees. Evaluate whether the amount owed justifies the effort and resources required for pursuing the claim.
It is advisable to consult with an employment attorney or seek legal advice specific to your situation to ensure that you fully understand your rights and the best course of action in your jurisdiction.
Also, if you’ve already filed a complaint with your employer, and the response was to terminate you, call an attorney immediately, as you may have been wrongfully terminated.