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Can I Sue my Employer for Not Paying Me?


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The relationship between an employer and an employee is a contractual relationship with terms and conditions that are agreed upon by both parties. Therefore, any breach albeit trivial is a breach of contract. The payment of wages is in return for the employee performing his/her duties is the essential element of the contract. Therefore, if an employer fails to give an employee anything which he is obligated to under the signed contract then he can sue to recover any promises which include wages. An employee can file a civil suit in either the state or federal court against an employer where there is a refusal to pay wages due. Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA regulates state and federal laws regarding pay. Any tribunal will evaluate a claim using the FLSA as it sets the minimum wage, states which employees are entitled to overtime, when and employer should pay overtime and explain when employees must be paid.

Under the FLSA there is a prescribed amount for minimum wage which is $7.25 and overtime as result once the employer disobeys the law then an employee can claim for wages owed. It is important to know that the employer cannot withhold a portion his/her employees’ salary without consent unless it is imposed by the law for taxes such as the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax. An employer cannot withhold an employee’s salary because he or she wished to punish that individual violation of company policies and dismissed. An employer still owes an employee all moneys owed irrespective of the fact there was misbehavior while performing contractual obligations. Therefore, unless prescribed by law under no circumstance an employee should not be paid for work performed.

An employee ought to try to settle the matter out of court by filing a complaint to have the issue resolved internally. This will result in an investigation being done to ascertain if it is an honest mistake or wilful refusal of wages. If it appears that the investigation is futile and the money owed will not be forthcoming then an employee can file a federal or state wage claim against the employer wage claim against. A wage claim is under FLSA allows an employee to file for wages that has not been paid. A wage claim at the federal level has special rules for an employee to claim wages. The Wage and Hour Division under the US Department of Labor allows a non-exempt employee to be covered by the FLSA who believes that he/she has not been paid the required federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour or overtime (1½ times the regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a work week). An employee who makes $455 per week or more is exempted from apply to the Divisions to claim wages. The Division will investigate the claim in an attempt to obtain all moneys owed to the employee by the employer. If an employee does not qualify at the federal level, the can qualify at the state level and file a complaint with the state department of labor, the attorney general or any of the requisite agencies with the responsibly of solving employment related issues.

An employee wishes to proceed with a claim then he/she can file a claim in the small claims court depending on the amount in the respective state. If it exceeds small claims court then the lawsuit will be filed the trial level civil court. A lawsuit can be seen as more desirable than filing a complaint at the wage and hour division because an employee stands to recover a considerable sum. The court may award an employee punitive sums that is an award that seeks to punish the employer for his actions, as well as attorney’s fees and cost of filing the lawsuit. But a lawsuit is more expensive therefore is always best to consult the wage and hour division before the commencement of any lawsuit.

An employee is fully protected by the law with a plethora of options to recover any sum that is outstanding by an employer by the FLSA and other state laws that protect an employee. An employee is obligated to receive money that was promised under the contract once he/she has fulfilled their obligations. Complaints maybe filed by the Wage and Hour Division, any state agency with that responsibility, small claims court once within the prescribed limit or file a lawsuit at the trial level court. Therefore, once an employee should act once the employer is unjust.

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