How Do You Collect Unpaid Wages in Texas?

September 19, 2022

If your employer has not paid you for work done, you can request and collect unpaid wages from them. But how do you do this? This article has the answer.

Has your employer ever failed to pay your wages on time? Most times, this puts employees in a difficult situation as they have no idea how they can collect their unpaid wages. However, as an employee in Texas, you’re entitled to payment for your work in any organization. If you’re dealing with a situation like this, contact a Texas unpaid wages lawyer to see if they can help. 

All employees are entitled to the federal minimum wage and overtime pay if they work over 40 hours within seven days. However, Texas employers don’t always pay you the wage you deserve.

This is where a wage claim enters the picture; you can recover your unpaid wages, including a monetary penalty for the late payment. This article walks you through how you can collect unpaid wages in Texas.

Texas Overtime Law

Salaried employees who are exempt from the protections provided by the federal Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) are entitled to payment for work at least once a month. However, the Texas Payday Law states that employers should pay regular, non-exempt employees at least twice a month. 

Under FLSA, there are no limits to the number of hours an employer can ask hourly employees to work in a day or week. However, the employer must pay the employee for the overtime hours. This is one and a half times their regular pay rate for hours worked over 40 weekly. However, there are employees exempt from the overtime requirement.

Additionally, the federal wage law states that as long as the non-exempt employee doesn’t work for more than 40 hours a week, the employer doesn’t have to pay overtime for working more than eight hours a day or for hours worked during the weekends or holidays. Therefore, if you worked over 40 hours a week and your employer refuses to pay you, a Texas unpaid wages lawyer may be able to help you file an unpaid wage claim to get the money you are owed. 

Types of Unpaid Wage Claims

Salaried and hourly employees deserve compensation for the work they do. However, they also need to receive this compensation promptly. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen as many employers miss paydays.

Below are some unpaid wage claims you can file with legal guidance from a Texas unpaid wages lawyer.

Unpaid Minimum Wage

Since Texas has no set minimum wage, it follows the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Employers could choose to pay regularly tipped employees lower than the minimum wage. However, they must ensure that the tips are enough to make minimum wage for hours worked.

Despite the clear laws, this is one of the common wage violations. If your employer violates the minimum wage law, you can take legal action to receive your late salaries.

Unpaid Overtime 

This is consistent with federal law, which requires Texas employers to pay employees time-and-a-half when working more than 40 hours weekly. However, exempt workers are not eligible for overtime pay.

Therefore, if you didn’t receive your overtime rate, you could get 50% of your regular rate hourly. For overtime violations, an employment law attorney can help you seek damages.

If you don’t know how much you’re owed for overtime, it’s quite easy. Suppose you worked 60 hours a week but received a regular rate of $10 hourly.

Your employer should have paid the last twenty hours at the overtime rate, which is one-and-a-half times your hourly rate; that’s $15 in your case. Therefore, your employer owes you the difference of $5 per hour, making a total of $100 in unpaid wages. 

Meals and Rest Breaks

Although Texas doesn’t require employers to provide meals and rest breaks to employees, an employer can choose to. However, if your employer decides to provide meal and rest breaks, they have to pay for meal breaks within 20 minutes or less. Additionally, if your employer asks you to work during your lunch break, they must pay you for your services.

When calculating your compensable time, you need to add any break of 20 minutes or less, whether you worked through it or not, and breaks of more than 20 minutes you worked through. If the additional time also results in overtime, then your employment attorney will ensure your compensation is at an overtime rate.

How to File an Unpaid Wage Claim in Texas

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) oversees the Texas Payday Law that protects the right of employees. The TWC protects the rights of employees and ensures they recover unpaid wages for overtime or regular hours worked.

Below are steps you need to take when you think the payment arrangement on your employment agreement has been violated.

Discuss Issues With Your Employer

Before filing a wage claim, discussing the issue with your employer is best. If your employer-employee relationship is excellent, then meeting your employer for wage payment might clarify the issue. However, if your employer doesn’t respond to your wage complaint, you can proceed to file a wage claim. 

Learn More About Filing Wage Claims

There’s an unpaid wage claim form on the Texas Workforce Commission website. You can also choose to fill out a wage theft paper form and then mail it to the TWC. You must attach your recent payroll check copy when submitting this form.

Note that TWC could deny your claim or declare it invalid for many reasons. You’re exempt from the Texas Payday Law protecting employees if you’re an independent contractor. That’s why confirming your employment status on your employment agreement is crucial. The form is considered invalid if you didn’t fill the form appropriately or sign it.

If your employer also filed for bankruptcy, then the TWC could deny your claim. There are clear instructions about the best way to submit a wage claim, whether online, through fax, or by mail. You can also contact a Texas unpaid wages lawyer for assistance in filling out the online form. 

Contact a Texas Employment Law Attorney

The Texas Payday Law can be difficult to understand, but a Texas unpaid wages lawyer can clarify the confusions you might have. In addition, employment lawyers will help you seek damages for wage violations and ensure this doesn’t affect your employment status. You also need an attorney if you plan to file a private lawsuit against your employer. 

Statute of Limitations for Texas Wage Claims

One reason your claim could be denied is the timing. You have 180 days to file a wage claim under the Texas Payday Law with the TWC. The countdown begins from the day your wages were unpaid. Once the TWC receives your wage claim form, they will send an acknowledgment to you and then notify your employer of the wage complaint.

TWC would also request a response from your employer on the charges of wage violation made against them. If your employer disagrees, then they can file an appeal. Again, filing this appeal within 21 days of the TWC decision is crucial.

Contact an Unpaid Wages Lawyer Today

Sometimes, collecting your wages can be more complex than you realize. However, working with a Texas unpaid wages lawyer will help you recover your due wages. Employment law lawyers can also help you seek additional damages for financial losses incurred due to delayed paychecks. 

Our Texas unpaid wages lawyers have vast experience in employment law statewide and the Texas Payday Law. Therefore, we can provide invaluable legal counsel during the claims and appeal process. We’ll also ensure that your employment rights are protected throughout the process. Contact our law firm today for more information and a free consultation.

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