Can You Sue a Company for Not Paying You?

Can You Sue a Company for Not Paying You?

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Can You Sue a Company for Not Paying You?

Millions of American workers live from paycheck to paycheck, and when employers illegally withhold wages from their checks, they stare at the brink of financial disaster. You can call it wage theft or go with a more gentle term such as withholding income. However you slice it, an employer that illegally takes wages from a worker should be held accountable under state and federal employment laws.

In other words, you can sue a company for not paying you.

Before you go the route of litigation, you should try to work out an agreement with your employer that not only pays you the money you deserve, but also forces your employer to refrain from future acts of wage theft. If you cannot work out an agreement with your employer, the time has come to contact an experienced employment law attorney.

At Morgan & Morgan, our team of highly-rated employment lawyers has helped hundreds of clients across the United States receive just compensation for pilfered wages. We intervene for our clients by meeting with their employers to work out a favorable settlement. If negotiations break down, we then help our clients file a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages.

Having your wages withheld illegally negatively impacts your finances, as well as causes you immense pain and suffering. We ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve that can go beyond the money that was unlawfully taken by your employer.

Schedule a free evaluation with one of our employment lawyers to determine how to proceed with your case.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

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  • What Are the Common Forms of Wage Theft?

    One of the reasons why you should reach out to one of our employment lawyers is to determine the type of wage case you should pursue in a civil courtroom. Each of the following forms of wage theft requires the gathering of different types of evidence and a unique approach to litigating the case.

    Minimum Wage Violations

    Any employer that fails to pay workers the federally mandated minimum wage is guilty of wage theft. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has established a minimum wage that employers must pay workers. This includes tipped workers that make less than the standard minimum wage because tips make up for the difference. Many states have established a minimum wage that is higher and in some cases, much higher than the federally mandated minimum wage.

    Another factor to consider is any deductions your employer makes on your paycheck that puts you under the minimum wage. Employers are allowed to deduct a few expenses, but some employers cross the legal line by deducting expenses the law does not allow them to deduct. If you suspect your employer has deducted money from your paycheck that it should not have deducted, speak with one of our state-licensed employment lawyers to find a legal solution to your predicament.

    Proving a violation of the state of federally-mandated minimum wage requires you to submit paycheck stubs and any electronic records that demonstrate your employer paid you less money than what you deserve.

    Overtime Pay Violations

    Can you sue a company for not paying you overtime? The answer is yes, and your back pay can be a substantial amount of money.

    The FLSA and state laws require employers to pay overtime to employees that work more than 40 hours in one workweek. Some states allow workers to receive overtime pay for working more than eight hours during a workday. A workweek spans seven days and it can start and end on any day. Some workers such as managers that receive a salary do not classify as workers that are eligible for overtime compensation. Overtime pay is one and a half times what a worker typically makes. For example, an employee making $12 an hour must receive $18 per hour for every hour worked over 40 hours during a workweek.

    According to the FLSA, neither a worker nor an employer can waive overtime pay for any reason. Overtime pay violations occur for a variety of reasons.

    • Misclassifying a worker’s job title
    • Making mistakes while calculating hours worked
    • Keeping inaccurate records for an employee that works at two different locations
    • Rigging a time clock to undercount hours worked
    • Falsifying timekeeping records

    Working off the Clock

    Employers that require workers to complete job-related responsibilities before clocking in and after clocking out violate the FLSA and state employment laws. Not only is it illegal to force you to work off the clock, but your employer can also be held legally liable if something happens to you while you work off the clock. For example, if you suffered an injury while working off the clock, your employer might face a personal injury claim.

    Requests to work off the clock come in many forms:

    • Require workers to respond to emails and voicemails before clocking in
    • Demand employees work through rest breaks and unpaid meal periods
    • Expect employees to perform job-related tasks at home
    • Labeling an outside of the workplace project as volunteer work
    • Not including travel time in the calculation of pay
    • Failing to pay the appropriate wages for training

    Deceitful Record-Keeping

    The United States Department of Labor requires employers to organize and maintain accurate time-keeping records that include wages, hours worked, and any extra compensation that is job-related. However, some employers flout the standards established by the United States Department of Labor by denying workers the compensation they deserve.

    During orientation, you took a tour of the facility where you spend most of your time in the workplace. During the tour, you probably passed a bulletin board that contained several posters distributed by the United States Department of Labor. One poster from the Wage & Hour Division (WHD) describes every record your employer must keep concerning your wages. This includes your hourly pay rate, the number of hours you work each day, and the total hours you put in for a workweek.

  • What Should I Do If My Employer Committed Wage Theft?

    The first thing to note is your employer cannot fire you because you filed a wage claim. However, you should try to work out an agreement with your employer before you get the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) involved with your case. Your employer might have made a mistake, with no intent to defraud you in any way. Once your employer recognizes the mistake, it should take immediate action to rectify the misunderstanding.

    If your employer fails to agree to a settlement for wage theft, then you should file a claim with the EEOC. The EEOC requires you to submit an inquiry that lets the federal agency know you might file a claim. A representative from the EEOC conducts an interview with you to learn about the facts of the case. After the phone interview, you have the right to file a formal claim by submitting it to the EEOC. You also can contact the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor.

    Can you sue a company not paying your fair wages? The answer is yes, and one of the employment law attorneys at Morgan & Morgan will provide you with legal support every step of the way. Remember that filing a civil lawsuit should be the last step in the process. Your lawyer might try once again to reach an agreement with your employer. Some employers take a charge of wage theft more seriously when a worker has hired legal counsel for support.

  • What Damages Can I Win?

    The American judicial system refers to the money that plaintiffs win as monetary damages. For a wage theft case, you have the right to seek several types of monetary damages.

    Back Pay

    The primary reason why you want to file a wage claim is to receive unpaid wages. Whether your employer ripped you off by deducting too much from your paychecks or failed to pay the overtime wage that you deserve, you are entitled to recover every last penny of compensation owed to you by your employer. Recovering back pay requires you to submit evidence that proves you worked a certain amount of hours at an established rate of compensation.


    The answer to the question, “Can you sue a company for not paying wages” is yes for both unpaid wages and the interest charged on unpaid wages as established by state law. You might also qualify for liquidated damages, which is a federally established form of compensation that you receive instead of interest. Your employment law attorney will determine whether you are better off seeking interest or liquidated damages.

    Compensatory Damages

    Back pay and interest compensate you for losses directly associated with wage theft. For example, back pay recovers the money owed to you for wage theft. Compensatory damages take care of issues such as pain and suffering. Wage theft can trigger mental anguish and emotional distress because of your financial predicament. Pain and suffering does not come with a price tag. Instead, your employment lawyer will come up with a reasonable figure for compensatory damages such as pain and suffering.

    Punitive Damages

    Many state laws require employers to pay a financial penalty for committing acts of wage theft. The financial penalty is in addition to the payment of back wages, interest, liquidated damages, and compensatory damages. For example, California law requires employers to pay a “waiting time” penalty that covers 30 days of a worker’s wages.

    You also might be entitled to attorney fees even if your lawyer works on a contingency fee basis. Some of the fees paid by attorneys include filing costs and court administrative fees.

  • Meet With One of Our Employment Law Attorneys

    Filing a wage claim and civil lawsuit for wage theft can take a significant amount of your time. You make your life much easier when you collaborate with an experienced employment lawyer. Our team of highly skilled litigators will help you collect and organize the documents you need to submit a persuasive claim and civil lawsuit. We also ensure you meet every filing deadline established by state and federal law.

    Learn more about how we can help you recover unpaid wages by scheduling a free case evaluation with Morgan & Morgan.

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