What Could My Unpaid Wages Claim Be Worth?

woman making calculationsIf your employer failed to pay you overtime or other wages to which you are entitled, you may be able to file a claim to recover the money you are owed. You could also be entitled to additional forms of compensation that are meant to punish your employer for breaking wage laws.

If you would like to learn about your options for recovering your unpaid wages and other damages, contact our experienced Sacramento wage and hour lawyer for assistance. We can explain your rights during a free initial consultation and develop a legal strategy based on the specific circumstances of your case.

Unpaid Wages

Employers are required to pay their employees for the hours that they have worked. Workers are entitled to at least the minimum wage. However, if the employer and employee agree on a higher rate, this rate must be paid. If your employer did not pay you for the hours that you worked, you may have a legal claim against your employer for unpaid wages.

In addition to your actual hours worked, you may also be entitled to wages for break times if your employer provides for breaks. This includes:

  • Short breaks during the workday
  • Time, when you are required to work even if your employer refers to this time as a break, such as eating lunch at your desk just in case customers or clients, come by

Unpaid Overtime

Overtime refers to any hours during a workweek that exceed 40 hours. Eligible employees should also be paid overtime after working more than 12 hours in one day or working more than seven consecutive days.

Under state and federal law, compensation for overtime hours is time and a half, or 150 percent of your regular rate of pay. For example, if your hourly rate is $20.00/hour, your overtime rate for all hours worked over 40 hours is $30.00/hour.

Some employees are not entitled to overtime pay, based on the industry and type of position that they work in. For example, employees whose jobs fit the criteria for an executive or computer employee exemption are not entitled to overtime pay. However, employers may sometimes misclassify employees to avoid having to pay overtime compensation.

A lot of unpaid overtime claims involve employers paying employees at the regular rate for the overtime hours worked. In this type of case, the amount of damages would be equal to 50 percent of the hourly rate for each overtime hour worked.

Additional Forms of Compensation

In addition to being entitled to your unpaid regular and overtime wages, you may also be able to receive other forms of compensation, including the following:

  • Interest – You may be able to receive interest on the unpaid wages, based on a specific rate determined under state law.
  • Penalties – You may also be able to recover penalties under state law.
  • Final paycheck – Employers are required to give employees their final paycheck on the day they would have normally been paid. If your employer did not pay you on that date, you may be able to receive damages equal to three times the amount of your final wages.
  • Liquidated damages – Under California law, you can request liquidated damages. These are special types of damages available in situations when it is difficult to quantify the amount of actual damages that you have suffered. You can request liquidated damages that are equal to the amount of your unpaid wages. Your lawyer must establish that you were not denied overtime pay due to a good-faith error.

Filing a Lawsuit Over Unpaid Wages

If you were not paid your wages, you may choose to file an administrative claim with the California Department of Industrial Relations, or you may choose to file a lawsuit. A lawyer can explain the deadline for filing your claim. He or she can also discuss the damages that you can pursue through an unpaid wage claim, including reimbursement for attorney’s fees and costs to bring your claim.

Contact an Attorney for Assistance

An employment law attorney can assess your case during a free consultation. He or she can also advise you if you may have additional claims against your employer, such as a breach of contract claim or wrongful termination lawsuit.

A lawyer can discuss your legal options so that you can make informed decisions about how to proceed with your case.

Schedule a free consultation today. Call 916-777-7777.