Can You Sue Your Employer for Unpaid Wages?

It is possible to sue your previous or old employer for unpaid wages if you can show that you were not paid the wages that you were owed.

However, before going straight to filing a lawsuit, you may want to try to resolve your problem through other ways first, like trying to contact your former employer yourself to see if they will pay you.

How Do I Know if I Have a Good Case?

Federal law and state laws require employers to pay their employees the correct hourly pay rate as well as allow for overtime compensation for the correct hours worked.

If you feel like you are owed back wages, there is a chance you can recover unpaid wages.

There are several key points to consider when thinking about whether you have a strong case.

These key points include the amount of wages owed, the reason for the nonpayment, and the laws and regulations that may apply to your situation.

You should also think about the cost and time involved in pursuing a lawsuit, as well as the chances of success.

If you believe that you have a strong wage claim, you may want to seek legal advice from an employment lawyer who is experienced in handling employment law cases.

An employment lawyer can review the facts of your case and talk to you about the best course of action.

Five Things to Do if You Think You Have a Wage Claim

a.       Breathe.  Everything will be ok.

b.       Seek an explanation

i.      Talk to your boss or human resources, or whomever notified you of the decision or pay policy and ask them for an explanation in writing.

c.       Start collecting evidence

i.      The issue most people have the most trouble with is presenting enough evidence to the court. The easiest ways to preserve evidence are:

1.       Journals

a.       Use this to write more detailed notes about what is happening on particular days

b.       These cases can be long, think 9-12 months, you won’t be able to remember everything without writing it down.

2.       Calendars

a.       Keep a daily record of what is happening

3.       Texts/Emails

a.       Try to always communicate with the opposing party in writing. Texts or emails are the best way. Make sure to keep the original texts and emails, not just screenshots.

4.       Collect Records

a.       If you haven’t already, start collecting records that might come up in court.

d.       Start a list of other employees as witnesses and speak to an attorney

i.      You’ll always need witnesses that can testify in court to back up your side of the story. It’s best to start talking to people as early as possible to make sure you can count on them in court.

ii.      Ask them to write down what they can remember about the situation. Do this as soon as you possibly can so that the details don’t get lost with time.

e.       Make a complaint to the government

i.      Usually, you must go to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days of the action for certain issues at work.  The EEOC covers claims under Title VII about race, gender, sex, age, orientation, disability status, etc.

ii.      Outside of the EEOC, the FMLA covers leave and Arkansas common labor laws covers other wrongful terminations. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Arkansas Minimum Wage Act cover wage issues.

iii.      It is best to talk to a lawyer first before going to the government, but better to go to the government in time than not at all.  You may lose all your rights if you wait too long.

Does the FLSA Cover Federal Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay?

In an FLSA case, an employee who successfully proves that their employer violated the FLSA may be entitled to recover damages for overtime pay or minimum wage violations.

Damages may include unpaid minimum wages or overtime hours pay, as well as an equal amount in liquidated damages (which are punitive damages equal to the amount of unpaid wages).

In addition to a wage claim and liquidated damages, an employee who brings a successful FLSA case may also be able to recover attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in pursuing the case.

How Long do I Have to File an FLSA Case?

The statute of limitations for filing a complaint for an FLSA case is generally two years, although in some cases it may be three years.

The statute of limitations is the time period within which a wage claim lawsuit must be filed.

Under the FLSA, a cause of action for unpaid overtime or minimum wages accrues each time an employee is paid, so the two-year (or three-year) period begins to run from the date of the last paycheck.

This means that if you wish to bring a lawsuit alleging that you were not paid the minimum wage or overtime pay that you were owed, you must do so within two (or three) years from the date of your last paycheck.

It is important to note that the FLSA’s statute of limitations may be extended in some circumstances, such as if the employer has engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the FLSA or if the employee has been the victim of a willful violation of the FLSA.

In such cases, the statute of limitations may be extended to three years.

If you believe that you have a valid claim for unpaid wages under the FLSA, you should consider seeking legal advice from an employment lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that you do not miss the deadline for filing your lawsuit and help you recover wages.