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Lawyer For Unpaid Wages

Updated: November 13, 2023
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A lawyer for unpaid wages helps in situations when the employee/worker is not paid as per the contract, law, or any notification by a regulatory authority. When an individual is hired under employment, the employer gets bound to pay the remuneration so agreed to by the employee, irrespective of the ongoing events in the business.

Unfortunately, companies occasionally fail to pay workers the minimum wage or overtime pay that they are entitled to pay under federal and state law. At that moment, It is crucial to approach a lawyer for unpaid wages, who can assist you if you believe that your employer has underpaid you.

The payment of wages is governed and comes under the purview of federal and state laws. Each of these rules is substantial, and their interactions are intricate. You may also be entitled to penalties and, in some areas, attorney's fees, if any, and also get liable to the employer in case of failure to pay full wages to the employee.

Additionally, there are some situations where an employer's inability to pay wages may provide grounds to file additional lawsuits, such as one for unfair competition (in California, for example). The specific grounds for lawsuits additional lawsuits can vary depending on the jurisdiction and applicable law. Consult with an attorney to learn more.

Just a few instances where you ought to contact a lawyer are listed below:

What Are the Instances Leading to Consult a Lawyer for Unpaid Wages?

  • You Were Not Paid for Extra Time.

    Employees are often only expected to exceed standard working hours, i.e., 40 hours per week. In that case, they are legally entitled to overtime pay.

  • Inequitable Pay in the Workplace

    It is reasonable to anticipate that a company will pay workers in the same position, with the same credentials, and do the same kind of job for the same salary. If you discover that a coworker makes more money than you do despite doing the same work, the pay disparity may result from discrimination.

    A lawyer can assist you in using your company by helping you establish that you are not getting paid because of your color, gender, religion, or other factors.

  • Your employer withheld wages without a valid justification.

    In very few circumstances, your employer may withhold money from your pay or deduct money from it in any state.

    According to federal law, employers are permitted to deduct money from employees' paychecks for things like the purchase and upkeep of uniforms or the employee's destruction of tools or equipment.

    However, in other circumstances, you must sign a formal agreement before any deductions can be made from your wages. You should speak with a lawyer who can assist you in recovering your lost pay if an employer takes certain deductions even though you have not given your approval.

When to Avoid Calling an Employment Attorney

While you can make your employer liable for not paying the rightful wages, there are situations when you need to consider certain conditions before proceeding with any legal action. These circumstances consist of the following:

  1. If the wages unpaid are minimal and any action to recover the same would amount to a loss of more money.
  2. Even though there are instances when legal counsel may not be required, it is typically a good idea to consult when you service any unethical practices.
  • Salary Claims
    1. For "off-the-clock" work, minimum wage, legally mandated breaks (or because your employer hasn't authorized you to take them), "off-the-clock" work, and the time it takes to put on or take off safety gear, uniforms, or other work-related attire.
    2. Compensation for unused, accumulated vacation days (if state law requires).
    3. Premium overtime pay for hours worked above the allotted number of straight hours (over 40 in a workweek under federal law; over 8 in a workday under some state legislation), or
    4. Expenses incurred for work-related travel during working time (and, in some states traveling expenses from office to work and vice versa are also considered part of salary perquisites).
    5. However, these are not definite assertions. For instance, even a minimum wage claim can be challenging if you labor for tips or receive commissions. Additionally, not all travel time needs to be paid for. You can determine whether your employer's actions are against state or federal law with the help of a lawyer.
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What Can an Attorney Do?

A lawyer for unpaid wages can present and consult you with alternatives for contesting against unlawful practices by the employer and help you decide whether your case is worth pursuing. In addition, a lawyer can help you determine whether your employer has broken any federal or state laws.

  • Talk About Your Options

    Employees frequently have the right to sue employers who violate the laws of wages and working hours. However, the employee may have additional options in many circumstances. For instance, you may submit a claim for unpaid wages against your employer with the state labor department, and the department would then convene a hearing to decide regarding the claim.

    Although departmental action is less time-consuming and inexpensive compared to litigation, it also comes with a drawback that only a lawyer can highlight for you (such as foreclosing the option of a lawsuit or putting a limit on the number of damages you can claim/recover).

    Another choice is to approach the employer informally to resolve your payment dispute. So that you may choose what to do, an employment lawyer can compare these possibilities for you.

  • Cost-Benefit Calculations

    A lawyer for employment can also analyze your chances of success in each of the aforementioned possibilities and the associated costs. A lawyer can provide you with a fundamental analysis of potential damages you could get and the legal costs associated with pursuing those damages.

  • Attorney's Fees

    Generally, lawyers' fees for unpaid wages are a major consideration for most people when weighing legal action. Request a pricing estimate from the attorney for each possible solution. Additionally, inquire about the lawyer's fee arrangements. In some cases, an attorney may work on a contingency basis where they are only paid if they successfully recover unpaid wages for the client.

    Another option is an hourly rate, will the attorney accept a limited services retainer (for instance, just advice on how to file a state agency claim)? Considering all the fee options, you may include that expense when deciding whether to pursue your underpaid salary claim.

  • Costs of Litigation

    You can be required to cover costs associated with a lawsuit or other legal action in addition to attorney's fees. Charges associated with these expenses may include filing fees, deposition costs, expert witness costs, and so on. You can get a breakdown of fees as per your capacity.


Lawyers for unpaid wages can assist you if your employer has failed to pay you the wages you are owed. Give your employer a chance to set things right by telling them about unpaid wages. Contact our attorneys to find out what to do next if they haven't paid the wages or addressed your issues.

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