Unpaid wages cost workers billions of dollars yearly, but you can get your money back with the help of an unpaid wages lawyer in Texas. Learn more in this article.
Texas Payday Law and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandate employers to pay employees for work done when due. This is why state and federal laws provide the minimum wage. However, as we have often seen, employers sometimes withhold salaries from their employees.
According to a report, US employers steal billions of dollars from employees’ paychecks yearly. The report also stated that workers in Texas and Pennsylvania suffer the most from such occurrences. If your employer withholds your wages, you can commence an unpaid wage claim against them under state and federal labor laws.
However, to increase your chances of winning this type of claim, you should consider the legal assistance of an unpaid wages lawyer. Hiring an employment attorney has several benefits. So, reach out to us at the Herring Law Firm if your employer is withholding your salary or paying you less than the regular rate.
Who Is an Employee Under Texas Law?
Under Texas Labor Code, an employee works in the service of another under a contract of hire, whether express or implied, oral or written. An employee is different from an independent contractor. Independent contractors differ from employees in that they have the right to control the details of their work.
Unlike an employee, an employer cannot tell a private contractor what to do, how, and when to do it. Employees are generally classified as part-time or full-time workers. Texas FLSA laws mandate your employer to pay you the minimum wage as full-time staff.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. To earn this hourly wage, you must work with a business that has a gross income of more than $500,000 yearly and at least two employees. Another requirement is that the company engage in commerce or the production of goods.
The FLSA also covers domestic employees like housekeepers, cooks, and full-time babysitters. Under the Texas Minimum Wage Act, employers must pay at least the hourly federal wage to non-exempt employees. That is, those covered by the FLSA.
Also, regardless of how you earn, whether a day rate or a piece rate, you are entitled to the standard hourly rate. However, your employer will determine your regular pay rate by dividing your total employment income by the number of hours you worked. But there are exceptions to this rule, and an employment law attorney can explain them to you
How To Know If Your Employer Owes You Money?
One report describes wage theft as the costliest crime in America. Also, in Texas, more than half of the $49 million owed to workers from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) wage claims from 2016 to 2020 remains unpaid by employers. That’s around $26.3 million.
Although a minimum wage violation is an offense, it has not stopped businesses from withholding wages. Sadly, most employees do not know when their employers are withholding their income and violating their employment rights.
The following are ways to know if your employer is withholding your salary:
- Unpaid overtime wages
- Unpaid commissions
- Deduction of meal breaks from hours worked
- Withholding overtime rate for working through lunch
- Misclassifying you as an exempted worker or as an independent contractor
Commission payments are a common problem in Texas workplaces. Several companies use sales commissions to incentivize their staff to make more sales. If your employment agreement is based on commission and not on a salary basis, you are entitled to the full commission.
Therefore, ensure the contract states how much the commission is and when and how the employer should pay for them. If you earn a standard salary plus commissions, ensure it is clearly stated. Contact an unpaid wages attorney today to learn more about unpaid commission and overtime violations.
What To Do If You Are a Victim of Unpaid Wages
There are several options available to you if your employer withholds your wages. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Report to Human Resources
The first option is to file a claim with your company’s human resource (HR) department. Do this by writing a dispute letter or hiring an unpaid wages attorney to handle it. When you file the report, the HR manager will look into the matter and offer a solution.
However, if they don’t, check your employment for the company’s position on how to rectify unpaid wages disputes. Most company heads prefer to avoid litigation, so they always insert an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) clause.
You might be able to resolve the issue and get your unpaid wages through ADR. But if ADR fails, your lawyers for unpaid wages in Texas will recommend the next best option.
File a Claim With Texas Workforce Commission
The claim with the TWC is an administrative process. The procedure involves using the TWC online system or a paper form. After filing the form, send it to the Labor Law Department.
The online process is faster, and you will get immediate confirmation that the TWC received your claim. However, you must file the claim no later than 180 days after your claimed wages become due for payment. That is the day your employer was supposed to pay you but failed to. Also, you must sign and declare the claim valid under the penalty of perjury.
If you decide to file a claim with the United States Department of Labor (DOL), you have two years to do so. Once you commence the action, the DOL will investigate your employer to ascertain whether your claims are accurate.
File a Private Lawsuit
An unpaid wages lawyer may advise you to commence an action in court instead of the administrative process above. In this instance, the lawyer will prepare the paperwork and gather the evidence to support your assertions.
Depending on the facts of the case, you may recover all unpaid wages or some part of it. The court may also impose a monetary penalty on your employer for the wage violation.
Join a Class Action Unpaid Wages Lawsuit
A class action is an alternative to a private claim. Here, several people with the same claim come together instead of commencing more minor actions.
The claimants in collective actions may share the same lawyer or hire different ones; if they win, they distribute the judgment sum among themselves. Contact an unpaid wages attorney to find out if there is an ongoing class-action lawsuit against your employer.
What Is Your Unpaid Wages Claim Worth?
There is no fixed amount for what a wage loss claim is worth. However, you will get liquidated damages if you file a minimum wage or overtime claim. Liquidated damages compensate you for the delayed wages.
You can receive 100% of your unpaid wages in Texas as liquidated damages. So, suppose your employer owes you unpaid wages and overtime of $1,200.You will get another $1,200, making your compensation a total of $2,400. If your claim succeeds, you might also get compensation for attorney fees and court costs.
What Is the Role of an Unpaid Wages Attorney?
Employment litigation matters are pretty complex and may require the expertise of employment claims lawyers. Therefore, you will do well to hire an experienced attorney rather than trying to handle the claim yourself. Below, we listed some of the roles of lawyers for unpaid wages in Texas.
Businesses have legal teams with years of experience handling employment situations and in-depth knowledge of state and federal laws. However, if you face them alone, you might lose your claim and job. Therefore, sometimes it can be safer to hire an unpaid wages attorney to make sure your employer does not mistreat you.
A lawyer will provide aggressive representation, fight to protect your rights, and keep your employer from bullying you. Also, they know the laws your employer broke and will hold them accountable for their actions.
Since a lawyer knows all the applicable laws and processes involved in a claim, they will provide you with the right legal advice. For instance, they know when you should try ADR and when to forgo it and file a lawsuit. Your lawyer will also inform you if a personal claim or class action is in your best interest.
File a Claim
Part of winning a case is knowing the correct documents to file within the allocated time. Your lawyer will ensure your claim has supporting evidence and is filed on time. Also, if the case goes to trial, they have the trial experience to argue o your behalf and secure a favorable judgment.
Trust Our Unpaid Wages Lawyer to Get Back What You Are Owed
As an employee, you are entitled to your salary, overtime, unpaid bonuses, and every other wage guaranteed by law and listed in your employment contract. If your employer withholds any of these, you can commence legal action.
At Herring Law Firm, our team is committed to helping you get back the money you worked for. We will protect your rights and ensure you do not get bullied by your employer. Contact us today for a free unpaid wages case review to see if we will be able to assist.