What Are The Consequences Of A Cash-Strapped Employer Not Paying Wages Owed?

When businesses are struggling to pay their bills and meet other obligations, they may consider laying off staff or even close their doors temporarily or permanently. However, for the work that you have performed, you will still be entitled to compensation for your wages. Unfortunately, some employers simply choose to stop paying their bills entirely, including salaries, and other benefits owed to you.

What Are Common Ways That Employers Don't Pay?

Even if your employer pays you partially, you may want to consider taking legal action by getting in contact with an unpaid wages attorney. Your employer is required to pay your wages and is also required to pay you above minimum wage. This includes work you have performed "off-the-clock." You may also be entitled to vacation time as required by law. 

You may have worked additional hours and are entitled to overtime pay which is typically 150% of your normal wages. On the holidays, you may be paid 250% of your wages. Unfortunately, some employers do not adequately track overtime and fail to remain in compliance with laws. If you're not sure which benefits you may be entitled to, you will want to speak with an unpaid wages lawyer immediately.

Should You Sue?

Contacting a lawyer is always a good idea when you are considering legal action. However, you will want to also make sure to contact the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD). You must submit a claim and wait for the WHD to investigate it.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

A lawyer will discuss with you the options you have and give you a general sense of whether you are likely to succeed. Whether or not you should take legal action depends on:

  • State laws
  • Whether or not a hearing is available
  • Whether your lawyer believes you can negotiate a settlement
  • Your potential settlement

If your employer owes you a substantial sum of money it may be worthwhile to seek compensation.

Will Your Employer Suffer Consequences?

Your attorney will explain the type of consequences your employer might face. In addition to civil penalties, your employer might face criminal penalties if they willfully violate your rights. However, even if you continue to work for your employer, they will not be able to retaliate against you. If you believe that your employer is retaliating against you, this is another matter you should bring up with your lawyer.

If you have more questions, reach out to an unpaid wages lawyer in your area.