The vast majority of employers are required by both state and federal laws to pay their employees at least the minimum wage for every hour they work. There is no justification then for an employer to refuse to pay you for work you have done or pay you less than the minimum wage for the work you have done.
There may be a genuine reason why you didn’t get paid, but if you think this is a deliberate attempt to not pay what you are owed, you have the right to take legal action against your employer. You should discuss the matter with an employment lawyer before suing your employer.
When Can An Employer Refuse To Pay Me?
An employer cannot refuse to pay you for work you have genuinely done. Both individual state and federal laws require employers to pay at least the minimum wage.
You should know what to expect in your wages if you have an employment contract with your employer. If your employer tries to refuse to pay you, this would be regarded as a breach of contract as well as a violation of one or another employment laws, such as the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
If you are wonder "My employer didn't pay me for all the hours I worked, what can I do?". If your employer isn't paying you for all the hours you've worked, then you may have a wage theft claim.
Your employer could justifiably not pay you if you did not complete the number of hours you are expected to work. For example, if you normally do a forty hour week and you only work thirty hours one week, then your employer may be entitled to only pay you for 30 hours.
Employers must also pay a wage or salary on time, e.g. fortnightly on a particular day, monthly etc. Failing to make a payment on time or not paying at all would be a violation of state or federal labor laws.
Even if your employer has fired you, or you quit the job, your employer must pay you for the work you have done, even if the final paycheck is deferred until the next normal payday.
What to Do If Your Employer Refuses To Pay
The first step to take, if you didn’t receive a paycheck when you expected it, is to contact whoever is employed by your employer to organize paychecks. There may be a genuine mistake, in which case your employer would be expected to make the missing payment available and any extra charges that you may have had to pay because you didn’t receive a paycheck on time.
If you don’t get a satisfactory answer and your employer refuses point blank to pay you, you have the right to sue your employer for damages. The next step would be to contact the state labor department and provide evidence of lack of payment of wages as well as any statements your employer has made and the number of hours you have worked without payment.
If you are not getting a satisfactory response from the state or federal labor departments closest to you, you should contact an employment law attorney to discuss your case.
What Do To If Your Employer Didn’t Pay You On Payday
You may be wondering "what can I do if my employer didn't pay me on payday?". If your employer didn’t pay you on payday, the first thing you can do is in writing to ask your employer for the wages that are owed to you.
If your employer still didn’t pay you on pay day after your written statement if you still have not been paid, you should contact your local state labor agency.
After contacting the local state labor agency, it is recommended to speak with an employment law attorney who can help you file a claim in small claims court.
You are protected under state and federal law and if your employer didn’t pay you on pay day, they are in violation of both. Each state has different laws that enforce wage and hour violations. Your employment law attorney will be able to counsel you if your employer is in violation of both state and federal laws.
What Laws Protect Against Wage Theft?
If your employer refuses to pay you, then you may be a victim of wage theft in the workplace. Your employer cannot withhold your paycheck from you.
If your employer refuses to pay you, then your employer may be in violation of both federal and state laws. There are laws that protect workers from wage theft from their employers both federally and locally either through state or municipal laws.
There are several laws on the federal level that helps protect workers if they are a victim of wage theft. The most common law and the violation is most commonly violated is the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The FLSA establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, record keeping, and youth employment standards affecting workers who work for private companies, as well as workers who work for federal, state and local governing agencies.
For example, if you have record that your employer is refusing you to pay for overtime work that you have completed, your employer is in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and you may be able to file an employment law claim against them.
You can also file a claim if your employer didn't pay you on payday or if your employer didn't pay you for the hours you worked.
Another law that helps protect workers if their employer refuses to pay them is The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA).
That law helps protect migrant and seasonal farm workers by setting standards for wages. The MSPA requires employers who hire migrant and seasonal farm worker to notify workers of wages before they are hired.
If you are a migrant or farm worker and your employer refuses to pay you, then they may be in violation of the MSPA and you may want to file an employment law claim against them.
There are also state laws that protect workers as well if they are not paid by their employer. For example, in Arizona their overtime laws are the same as the federal overtime laws, so if you work in Arizona and your employer doesn’t pay you overtime, your employer is in violation for both state and federal laws.
Can I Sue My Employer for Not Paying Me Correctly?
Workers do have the right to sue their employer for violations of wage and hour laws, such as not paying you correctly. That is referred to as the worker's "private right of action." This means that you can sue your employer for not paying you correctly.
Employers are legally required to pay their workers’ wages on the next customary payday for the preceding pay period. If your employer did not pay you the correct amount, you have the right to sue your employer for not paying you correctly.
There are a couple of ways you can sue your employer for not paying you correctly. The first is filing a claim on the state level with your local state labor agency.
Often times, state labor agencies have a division that is responsible for investigating wage in hour laws in that state. Depending on where the wage theft took place is where you would file a wage theft claim on the state level.
You also have the option of filing a claim on the federal level with The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD).
The WHD is the federal agency that enforces wage and hour laws throughout the United States. You are able to file a claim with the WHD online at anytime. The website will tell you all the information that you need
Where Does Wage Theft Occur?
If your employer refuses to pay you, unfortunately you are not alone. Wage theft is a widespread problem that happens all across the United States and throughout all types of industries.
There is no specific geographical location where wage theft happens more often, wage theft is a national problem. There are also all sorts of industries where wage theft occurs.
Wage theft is more common in workplaces where workers are not unionized. If you are in a union and your employer refuses to pay you, then you should speak with a representative from your union and your union will challenge it.
While no industry is immune to wage theft, there are industries where wage theft occurs is more widespread than others.
Often times employers refuse to pay immigrant and other low wage workers, as they can be vulnerable.
Several other kinds of industries where workers have reported their employers not paying them are in the agriculture, restaurant, garment manufacturing, poultry processing and home healthcare industries.
If your employer refuses to pay you, then they are in violation for both state and federal laws and you may want to file an employment law claim against them.
Next Steps to Take
When your employer refuses to pay you what you are entitled to, it can be a tough situation to be in. You may have the right to sue your employer and recover the wages you should have been paid, as well as other amounts.
The best advice is to talk to an employment law attorney about your situation. The attorney will know whether you have a strong case against your employer, suggest evidence you will need to prove your case and represent you if and when the case goes to court. Fill out the Free Case Evaluation today!