How to Report Unpaid Wages and Recover Back Pay

Getting your employer to pay unpaid wages can turn into a contentious matter, and it will be in your interest to hire an unpaid wages attorney to protect your rights and pursue the legal avenues available to you. Many attorneys offer a complimentary consultation, and you should make use of that to find out if your employer has been violating any state and federal laws. If you have a valid case and could win compensation, they will give you several options for handling the issue.

How to Report Unpaid Wages

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is responsible for investigating cases of unpaid wages and recovering back pay for the complainant. The unpaid wages attorney will assist you in filing a complaint with them.

That will involve providing the WHD with all the relevant information, such as your and your employer’s name, address, and contact details, the nature of your work, the compensation amount, and the payment mode. It will also help to include copies of work records and pay stubs.

As per department regulations, the WHD must keep this information confidential and cannot reveal your identity to anyone without your permission. And, additionally, even if your employer discovers that you are the complainant, they are legally barred from firing you or retaliating against you for this reason.

Recovering Back Pay

After receiving the complaint, the Department of Labor will investigate your employer and review the goods they manufacture, the services they provide, and their annual business revenue. They will also check their payroll records and interview other employees. If they discover that your employer has violated the FLSA, the Department of Labor must determine how much back wages they owe you and instruct the WHD to oversee the payment of these.

Many employers will comply to avoid a lawsuit, but some will refuse or claim that they are unable to pay you for various reasons. If that is the case with your employer, the Secretary of Labor may file a suit against them and get an injunction to discover if they are illegally withholding the wages they owe you.

You can also get an unpaid wages attorney to file a separate private suit to recover the pending wages and overtime payment. Be sure to factor in the attorney fees and the court expenses when doing so. And, even more importantly, keep in mind that the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit or initiating an investigation to recover back pay is two years.

If you are also filing for the violation of minimum wage and overtime laws, the statute of limitations is three years. However, if the Secretary of State has already filed a suit against your employer or if they are supervising the restitution of your back pay, you cannot sue privately.

Working with an attorney

Many attorneys offer a complimentary initial consultation, and you should take advantage of that to get a professional assessment of your situation. It will be a good idea to take along relevant evidence such as time-sheets, pay stubs, W-2 forms, phone records, text messages, GPS logs, and driving records. If possible, you should also collect testimonies from co-workers and other witnesses.

The unpaid wages attorney will review your evidence and assess if you have a case against your employer and what your chances are of winning it. If there is a case, they will determine the amount of wages that your employer owes you. They will explain to you how the unpaid wages dispute process will work from start to end. They will then approach your employer and discuss the matter with them. It may be possible to resolve the issue through negotiation, especially as a willful violation of labor laws can lead to stiff monetary fines as well as criminal prosecution.

However, if it doesn’t, the unpaid wages attorney will recommend that you file a legal complaint against your employer. Taking a tough approach may be the only stance that will work in some cases, and you owe it to yourself and to your family to make every effort to recover the back pay that you worked so hard to earn.

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