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Recovering back wages from an employer

If you believe that your current employer or a former employer owes you unpaid wages, you deserve to understand the rights you have to fair pay and the steps you can take to resolve the dispute. The good news is that employees who do not receive fair pay for their work have a number of ways they may pursue fair compensation.

In some cases, the simplest path to a just resolution is a private lawsuit against the employer to recover the lost pay. In a private suit, an employee may reasonably seek the amount of wages originally unpaid, as well an equal amount in additional damages. Furthermore, such a suit can also seek damages to cover legal fees and court costs.

Similarly, the Secretary of Labor may get involved by filing suit against the employer, especially if the case involves underpaid minimum wage or wrongfully withheld overtime. However, once the Secretary of Labor or some other official party files suit against an employer, or supervises the restitution for unpaid work, a worker may not also file a private suit to recover damages.

It is also important to understand that filing a claim for unpaid wages has a fairly short statute of limitations. In many cases, a worker must file for unpaid wages within two years of the violation, or within three years if the worker can prove that the violation was willful on the part of the employer.

Do not wait to begin building a strong claim to seek fair compensation for your unpaid work if you have not already. The longer you wait, the fewer options you have, making it all that much more difficult to resolve the conflict fairly and keep your rights and privileges protected.

Source: FindLaw, "How to Report Unpaid Wages and Recover Back Pay," accessed Feb. 16, 2018

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