Every worker deserves full and fair payment of their wages. Unfortunately, too many employers do not fulfill their duty to compensate their workers properly. If your employer underpaid you or failed to pay you altogether for any hours you have worked, you should know what you can do to recover those unpaid wages.
Speak up immediately
If you notice your check is lower than it should be or you haven’t received a check at all, speaking up immediately is crucial. You can talk to your manager, your employer or a Human Resources representative.
These discussions can give them an opportunity to explain a misunderstanding or take corrective action. Be prepared with relevant documentation, such as schedules of hours worked and paystubs. After this meeting, follow up in writing to confirm what you discussed and the next steps.
Go to the Department of Labor
Did you know that you may be owed wages without even realizing it? The Department of Labor (DOL) recovers money from employers who owe employees, but the DOL can’t always find the employees who should receive it. The agency holds on to that money for three years.
You can check to see if you have unpaid wages and make a claim for that money by visiting the Department of Labor’s website. People in healthcare, construction and food service are among those most likely to be owed money.
Filing a complaint with the DOL or Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) can also be an option if you believe your employer owes you money and want them to investigate.
File a legal claim
If your employer refuses to compensate you or fails to do what they promised, you could talk to an attorney about filing a lawsuit. These measures can be aggressive, and they do take time. However, legal action may be the only way to get an employer to pay what they owe. In some cases, a lawsuit results in wronged employees receiving financial damages in addition to unpaid wages.
Again, be sure you have documentation that supports your allegations that your employer owes you money. Employment contracts, schedules, emails and paystubs can all help reinforce your claim.
You deserve to be paid fairly and fully. If this doesn’t happen, these steps can help you recover the money you have earned.