Even when workers suspect their employer may be paying them less than agreed to, it can still be terrifying to pursue legal action against their employer. Workers understandably fear retaliation, loss of employment, and loss of income. If your payment has been arbitrarily reduced without explanation, know that the law has many remedies for those in your situation. Please continue reading and reach out to a Marquette employment lawyer to learn more about wage theft in Michigan and how our legal team can protect your rights.
What Is Wage Theft?
Wage theft is when an employer doesn’t give you the money you have earned. There are a few ways wage theft occurs. Employers may steal tips, refuse to pay overtime, or incorrectly classify job functions to justify a lower-than-agreed-upon wage.
What Are My Options?
As intimidating as challenging your boss may feel, the United States and Michigan have several methods of redress for employees whose wages have been stolen.
You’ll first have to make a choice. You can:
File a complaint with the Michigan Wage and Hour Program at the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO).
File a complaint with the United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
File a lawsuit in state or federal court.
Keep in mind that after you file a lawsuit, you will typically not be allowed to file a wage complaint for the same situation with LEO or the U.S. Wage and Hour Division. However, if you file a complaint with LEO or the U.S. Wage and Hour Division first, you may still be able to file a lawsuit later, should it be necessary or helpful to do so.
You may also have the opportunity to file a grievance if you are a union employee. Unions do two important things with regard to preventing or redressing wage theft. Employment contracts through unions set up wages and benefits. Furthermore, unions often have grievance procedures of which you can avail yourself.
Limitations on Recovering from Wage Theft
Some aspects of employment law may make it more difficult for you to push back on your employer. For example, independent contractors are often not protected by state or federal laws. You would only have a path forward if your employer wrongly classified you as an independent contractor when in fact you weren’t. And if your employer files for bankruptcy, you should first contact bankruptcy court. Finally, complaints with local, state, and federal agencies for wage theft have precise time limits.
Protect Your Hard-Earned Wages
Everyone works long and hard for their money, and so it can be infuriating and heart-rending in equal measure to see all that go to waste if your employer takes your wages. Here at Berger Law, we want you to know that we can tackle these cases with you, and get you the recovery you more than deserve.