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How to file a wage claim for unpaid wages

Unfortunately, unpaid wages are a common problem in the workforce. The problem persists, especially with blue-collar workers. According to the Economic Policy Institute, workers lose an estimated $15 billion in minimum wage violations.

However, wage theft is not only for minimum wage violations. It also applies to unpaid overtime, bounced paychecks, inadequate break periods, illegal pay deductions and improper sick leave allowances. If you suspect your employer owes you wages, see below for the steps to filing a wage claim.

How to file

First, you need to consult with an experienced attorney. They will advise you throughout the process. Next, locate the nearest Labor Commissioner’s Office. You can choose to file the wage claim in person or by mail.

Statute of limitations

Depending on the nature of the theft, you have a certain amount of time to file a claim. Written contracts have a statute of limitations of four years. Minimum wage violations, overtime violations or unlawful deductions have a limit of three years. For oral agreements, you only have two years to file a claim.

Once you file a claim, the Labor Commissioner’s Office sends a notice to your employer. Usually, you must schedule a conference with your employer and attempt to settle the dispute out of court. Do not attempt to negotiate with your employer without an attorney present.

The law is on your side when it comes to wage theft. Make sure you document your working hours and payments on your own. Do not rely on your employer to keep track of your rightful payments.