You work hard for your money and expected a paycheck weeks ago.
You’re frustrated. You’re angry. You have mouths to feed and you have bills to pay. What do you do when an employer isn’t paying what you are owed?
Too many employees find themselves in this situation, wondering if there is a way to get paid, whether they leave the job, have left the job, or even if they need to stay.
Under state and federal law, employers must pay wages when due, no ifs ands or buts.
Here are a few steps to take on your own first:
1. Speak With Your Payroll Department
As your payroll personnel if they are aware of the problem. If that is not feasible, speak with your supervisor or H.R. (Human Resources) department and explain the problem. If you have records of how much time you have not been compensated for, provide a copy of those records, keeping the originals for your file. Try to remain calm and focus on what it is you are trying to accomplish.
If you are nervous about speaking with someone as recommended, try giving a friend or family member your presentation as a dress rehearsal before meeting with your employer. This may help you do a better job with the presentation.
When speaking with your employer or its personnel, make sure to do so in private, away from customers, clients, and coworkers. At the end of your discussion, determine what the next course of action will be and repeat it to the person you are speaking with for confirmation. In this way, any misunderstandings can be ironed out before the conversation ends.
Once you understand what the employer is going to do, confirm the date by which it will be completed. Then, follow up in a timely manner to keep things on track and ensure you are properly compensated for the time you worked without further delay.
2. Keep a Record
Don’t rely upon your employer to accurately track your hours; you should be doing this too. Innocent errors can occur or records can be lost. Make sure your records include breaks, sick time, overtime, and note whether you were paid or unpaid for that time.
Once you have brought the matter to your employer’s attention, continue to keep a record of every interaction you have with your employer regarding the issue, including the date and time of all communications, the name of the persons you spoke with, and what the discussion was about.
If you have access to employer documentation supporting your side, make sure to keep it. This includes employee handbooks, performance reviews, communications with your employer (email, performance evaluations and letters), the original job offer letter (if any), and anything discussing company policies.
3. Contact a Lawyer
If you’ve spoken with the above people and see no progress, consult a lawyer immediately, as there are laws which ensure payment of wages due, and free legal help for employees is readily available.
Legal representation for your unpaid wage claim should always be 100% free in working with an experienced law firm, such as our lawyers at Kimmel & Silverman, P.C. When we win for our clients, the employer is held responsible for paying all legal fees and all costs. When we don’t prevail (which is unusual), our clients do not pay us anything either.
When it comes to wage and pay claims such as those discussed above, no amount owed is too small to seek legal help. Employers cannot lawfully disparage any employee who has a bona fide wage claim without also violating other laws which would subject them to additional liability.
An employer who fails to pay earned wages is stealing your time and is avoiding the taxing authorities as required when disbursing wages. Don’t be a victim; stand up for your livelihood!