If you have been wrongfully denied wages by your employer, you may be wondering what happens next.
The process of suing an employer for unpaid wages can be daunting, but with the help of a qualified employment lawyer, you can get the money you are owed.
In this blog post, we will discuss the process of suing an employer for unpaid wages and what to expect from beginning to end.
Workers’ rights and wage violations
First and foremost, it is important to know the law and your rights, as this is the first step toward a successful lawsuit.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) governs unpaid wage claims in most states and requires employers to pay employees at least minimum wage, as well as overtime compensation for hours worked over 40 per week.
The minimum wage in New York is $15, which is significantly higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
Overtime is calculated as time and a half for each hour over 40 per week.
The FLSA and most state wage laws require that all wages are paid regularly and on time. Employees must be paid their final check immediately if they are terminated.
Employees can be cheated out of their wages and overtime in several ways. For a lot of businesses, one of the biggest expenses is employee compensation.
Employers can be tempted to reduce labor costs, take hours off of employees’ timecards, and withhold benefits.
The most common methods of wage violations include:
- Unpaid minimum wage and overtime
- Misclassification of workers
- Unpaid off-the-clock work
- Improper recordkeeping
- Employee payroll debit card fees
- Uncompensated meals and rest breaks
- Tip-pooling and tip-sharing
- Unreimbursed expenses and mileage
- Unpaid time spent on donning and doffing equipment and gear
Unfortunately, thousands of New York employees are cheated out of millions of wages every year. According to the latest EPI report, more than $3 billion in stolen wages has been recovered for workers from 2017 to 2020 by the U.S. Department of Labor, state agencies, and class action litigation.
What happens once you decide to sue your employer for unpaid wages?
If your employer deliberately fails to pay wages they owe you, you can file a lawsuit in court for double the amount of your unpaid wages.
The first The f step is to start building your case with an experienced unpaid wages and hour overtime lawyer.
Having an attorney on your side is crucial since the laws can have various nuances and exemptions that you may not fully comprehend without the guidance of a professional.
Once you hire an attorney to represent you, they will need to hear your full story and facts in greater detail.
They will need to know about your job duties, work schedule, policies maintained by the employer, and the amount of pay you’ve received so they can assess and decide how to pursue your case.
Bring all the evidence you’ve gathered that proves your employer willingly violated the FLSA and give it to your lawyer to evaluate.
Pre-suit demand letters
Pre-suit demand letters are one of the most common methods used by wage-and-hour attorneys to assist employees in reclaiming their wages.
This letter requests that your employer’s attorney explore a potential claim settlement with your attorney (before you file a lawsuit in claims court).
You must bring a claim in court to compel your employer to respond and prevent the statute of limitations from expiring.
You can pursue a claim for unpaid wages through a court lawsuit filed by your attorney. If your employer fails to respond in a timely manner, the court may grant you judgment.
Wage-and-hour claims are also pursued as collective actions (a class action lawsuit comprises a group of employees seeking compensation for common damages) and individual arbitration proceedings (a legal proceeding in which an attorney decides the case instead of a judge).
Discovery and settlement
Once your claim has been filed, you will be a plaintiff in that litigation and will be required to adhere to a particular court rules governing discovery, including keeping and (perhaps) producing documents to your employer.
In this phase of the lawsuit, both sides get to collect statements and evidence from the opposing side and their witnesses.
Typically, workers are required to show evidence of their employment (such as work schedules or pay stubs) as well as estimations and details regarding the earnings they claim to be owed.
The majority of lawsuits are resolved when the listed plaintiffs and their unpaid wage attorneys negotiate a settlement amount.
Trial and collection
If you cannot reach a settlement, the case will go to trial.
At the trial, the judge and jury will be presented with the evidence and will hear the testimony of witnesses. The jury will then decide which side is telling the truth.
If you win the case, your employer is required to pay what you are owed..
What can happen to you after you sue your employer?
When considering suing your employer for unpaid wages in order to reclaim what is rightfully yours, you might wonder what can happen to you after you file a lawsuit.
You should be wary of any attempt by your employer to justify their unlawful behavior in order to discourage you from filing a claim. Regardless of what they do, you should not be intimidated.
If you are not fairly compensated for your labor, your employer is not permitted to punish or retaliate against you, as they are breaking the law.
Once you report a wage violation, your employer is prohibited from taking any form of retaliatory action against you. They cannot demote you, reduce your pay rate, cut the number of hours you work, or fire you.
If you are subjected to retaliation, you have legal recourse to file an additional claim, which could increase the amount of liquidated damages you receive.
Suing your employer for unpaid wages can be daunting. There is the risk of retaliation, and the process itself can be quite lengthy.
However, with the help of an experienced attorney that specializes in wage-and-hour cases, you have a better chance of getting the compensation you deserve.
Your lawyer will guide you through the process, from filing the lawsuit to the collection, and make it easier for you to resolve your unpaid wages issue. By being familiar with the legal steps and knowing what can happen if you sue your employer for unpaid wages, you will be better equipped to achieve a successful outcome.
With the right legal representation, you can take control of reclaiming what you earned and getting the justice you deserve.
To find out whether you have a case worth pursuing, feel free to contact Cilenti & Cooper today. We treat every case with the attention and care it deserves and can fight for your rights from beginning to end. We offer a free consultation to all of our prospective clients, so you have nothing to lose.