Employers have a big responsibility to their employees starting with giving them the salary or wages due for them. Employees have a legal right to their wages and this includes the last paycheck.
A wage claim is not limited to not being paid or not having received your final paycheck. You can also file a claim if your employer refuses to give you the minimum wage, forced overtime, unauthorized deductions from your income, not receiving pay for work completed during breaks or lunch hours or not being able to receive vacation time upon termination. Remember, however, that labor codes may vary depending on the state where you work or the federal law itself.
Step # 1: Get it Touch with Human Resources
Discuss the reason of your claim to the HR manager or the payroll manager. Don’t go immediately to the government agency and stake your claim since the problem might just be a clerical error. Besides, the government agency or the court would ask you to show evidences that you tried to resolve the issue beforehand.
Step #2: Issue a Demand Letter
Send your employer a demand letter stating the very reason(s) regarding your claim. Being specific and detailed about the money owed will greatly help you. Cite any relevant state or federal law if you are not given the minimum wage or have not received the final paycheck on time as per required by the state law.
Step #3: Ready your Documentation
Gather sufficient documentation backing up your claim and this may include the following:
- Employee handbook
- Written company policies regarding bonuses, holiday pay and vacation pay.
- Time records
- Pay stubs and bounced checks
- Communication between you and your employer
Step #4: Unpaid Wage Claim
If your employer does not take any action, then take your claim to the state agency responsible for unpaid wage claims. You many need to fill up forms and provide supporting documents for your claims.
The agency may contact your employer to demand him to pay for your wages. It may also summon you and your employer for a conference hearing in which you have to prove that your claim is valid.
Step #5: Civil Claim
Alternatively, you can opt for filing a civil claim if your dispute entails less than $5000 wage claim. Also, it may not allow you or your employer to have legal representation. All you have to do is to contact the city or county clerk where your employer’s business is located and file a small claims case. You can contact a lawyer to represent you and your case. He or she can give you insight whether the cost of hiring her is worth your claim.