Steps to Recover Unpaid Wages and Hours


Working should give one a sense of accomplishment and build professional abilities. However, a job should also provide an income.

When employers fail to provide wages at the previously agreed upon rate, employees have been left without appropriate compensation.

Have you been denied wages or hours unjustly?

Don’t worry; help is available. There are steps you can take to recover unpaid wages and hours.


Step 1: Establish Whether your Job is Salaried or Hourly

Some employers can mischaracterize your work by identifying your job as salaried instead of hourly.

Salaried work typically includes:

  • Supervision of other employees

  • Management or providing advanced administrative tasks

  • Regularly exercise of your judgment

There are always exceptions, but if you do not fulfill the above responsibilities, your job is most likely an hourly position.

If you believe your work has been misidentified as being salary or hourly when it should be the other, reach out to an attorney today.

Step 2: Determine How Much You are Owed

The law mandates your employer to maintain a file of your hours worked. This file should note your beginning and ending times, not just general guidelines for the beginning and end of work days.

If you have personally kept track of your hours, count them up separating weeks on the same schedule your employer uses (typically Sunday through Saturday).

You should be paid the agreed rate per hour for up to 40 hours and time and a half for any additional hours (in most cases).


Step 3: Demand Lost Wages

Use your listed official hours and pay rate documentation to create an official demand for lost wages. When you deliver your wage demand, make sure to keep a copy for yourself and document when you delivered the demand to your employer.

If you no longer work for the employer, you should receive your wages by:

  • the next regular pay date

  • 14 days after receiving your demand

Your pay should arrive on whichever of these situations occurs first. If not, you may be entitled to up to three times the amount of lost wages.


Step 4: Taking Additional Action

If your employer has still not paid you within 14 days, you have grounds to file a small claims lawsuit. Remember, you are entitled to up to three times the amount of unpaid wages. Make your claim out to that amount. Beware of going over the threshold of small claims. A qualified attorney can walk you through this entire process; in most cases, they will pursue your employer for all legal fees.


The attorneys at Pitt, McGehee, Palmer, & Rivers have taken many cases on unpaid wage and hour suits. We can help you obtain the wages you are owed as well as any additional fines for your lost time.


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