How to Recover Unpaid Wages

If you've had a falling out with an employer or recently lost your job, you might have outstanding wages that your employer has failed to pay you. Recovering unpaid wages can sometimes put you in an awkward position, but you've earned that money and have the right to claim it. Working with your state's Department of Labor office, you can recover your wages and move on with your life.

Find the phone number for your state's Department of Labor office. Check in the phone book under government services, or visit the department's website (see Resources).

Give your employer fair warning that you plan to claim unpaid wages from him. A claim cannot be processed if the employee has not demanded wages from the employer. If you've done so, and your employer does not remit the wages, you can proceed with the claim.

Obtain a claim application. You can find it on your state's Department of Labor website (see Resources), or you can call and ask to have one mailed to you. Provide all of the required information on the form, including when you started the job, how much money you are owed, and the original agreement you made concerning wages when employment started. Mail in the application for processing.

Wait about 10 days for the claim process to begin. The Department of Labor will send your former employer a letter notifying him of the claim; you will receive a copy of that letter. He will have the option of settling immediately; if he does, call your Department of Labor office and ask that the claim be terminated. If he does not, prepare to go to court; you will receive a summons by mail.

Meet your former employer in a hearing, where a judge or mediator will hear both sides of the story. Typically, attorneys are not present, but hire one if you feel you need representation. A settlement will be met based on the findings of that hearing. This settlement will dictate how much you will be paid, and when.

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About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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