How to Dispute Wages

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An employee can hire an attorney to engage in a wage dispute for unpaid work hours.
An employee can hire an attorney to engage in a wage dispute for unpaid work hours. (Image: paper money - close up image by Andrew Brown from Fotolia.com)

An employee has the right to claim all wages due for the hours she works for her company. If you notice that your paycheck does not reflect all the hours you worked, you may have a legitimate case to dispute your wages. State and federal laws require your employer to pay you the agreed-upon hourly wage, which must be at least the minimum wage. If you are a non-exempt employee, you also earn overtime pay when your boss requires you to work more than 40 hours a week. It is illegal for your employer to fine you, dock your pay below the minimum wage level, or withhold your final paycheck. Your employer can be liable for violating federal and state laws, and you may be entitled to collect your missing wages.

Gather all your pay stubs and time sheets. Total the hours you worked and compare them with the amount of pay you received. If you notice inconsistencies, talk with your employer in a nonconfrontational manner to find out if a mere payroll data error was to blame. Pursue legal action if you have a legitimate case and your employer refuses to rectify the situation.

Contact a lawyer who specializes in handling wage and overtime pay issues. Review all evidence with the lawyer so he can make sure you have a legitimate case against your employer. The attorney can also determine if the employer is liable for any other payments or penalties. Most wage disputes involve nonpayment of earned wages, withholding final paychecks when employment ends, paying with checks drawn against insufficient funds, or failure to provide proper compensation for business expenses such as travel time or hotel accommodations related to your job. You will have a limited amount of time to sue your employer depending on your state's statute of limitations and the type of lawsuit: oral contract dispute, overtime dispute claim or written contract dispute.

Reach out to other employees who work for the company or who once worked there. You may be able to file a class-action suit if you discover other people who have experienced the same problem concerning this employer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never sign any agreement with your employer to settle your wage claim for less than the full amount of compensation you should receive. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act does not allow such compromises.

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