If your employer has failed to pay your wages, you may assume that winning your case will be relatively easy. However, if your employer has competent legal counsel, they may come up with one of several legal defenses that you will need to be prepared for and that your employer will need to help you craft a counter-argument against.
The first step you should take is to speak with your employer since your employer might have simply made a mistake and may correct it immediately. If not, you will want to get in contact with an unpaid wages attorney.
Damages Awarded for Unpaid Wages
When your employer must pay damages for unpaid wages, they will need to compensate you for all the backpay. Also, your employer will need to pay liquidated damages that are meant to punish the employer for having not paid your wags. However, if your employer is able to prove that the practices were acceptable under the Fair Labor Standards Act at the time, you may only be awarded back pay.
One of the common reasons for an unpaid wages claim is when an employer does not pay overtime. You may track how much you should have gotten paid under overtime laws but your employer might have attempted to classify you in a manner that makes you exempt from overtime.
If you are responsible for timekeeping, your employer might argue that you did poor job timekeeping. For example, your employer might argue that you claimed to have worked for more hours than you actually did. Or, you might have submitted something that had a defect and then didn't correct it in time. You will need to present any evidence you have on hand to counter these claims.
Mistakes Your Employer Might Make
A great unpaid wages attorney will identify mistakes that your employer made and will use this as evidence that your employer was not diligent when paying you. While most businesses record payroll information electronically, some businesses still write down payroll information. If the information is incomplete, this might be used as evidence of negligence.
To prove that there are any discrepancies in your pay, you will also want to engage in your own recordkeeping. Make sure to keep all of your pay stubs so that you can prove that you were not compensated what your employer claimed to have compensated you. Then, your attorney will advise you on the next steps to take.