Wage Issues? Tip #5: Know There Is Strength in Numbers

Decimal?! Hexadecimal counting with the finger...
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This post continues my series of tips, or things to consider, for workers with unpaid wages.

Tip #5 is this: Know there is strength in numbers– the larger the unpaid wage amount, the larger the employer, and/or the more employees who are underpaid, the more likely it is you have leverage for potential legal claims relating to unpaid wages.

Some workers with unpaid wages focus (understandably) on factors such as the obviousness or unfairness of the unpaid wages at issue.

Consider a worker who expresses something like this:

“My employer deducted $300 from my paycheck, and I read a government agency website that says deductions like this are unlawful!”

While such interpretations by a worker may well be true (or may not), the amount of wages at issue in this example ($300) is itself important to consider before taking action such as making a complaint, paying hourly (non-contingency) legal fees to an attorney, etc.

A wage amount that is less than thousands of dollars may well be important to recover– hey, being underpaid $10 you are owed is too much– but lower wages must be compared to (1) the potential time and resources invested in a legal action; and (2) the employer’s reaction.

For example, a complaint to a current employer about $300 in a situation like the example above could result in the worker being fired, as a practical matter.  Is that potential consequence worth the potential benefit of recovering $300?  I am not trying to answer this question, just mention that it bears asking.

Generally speaking, a potential action for unpaid wages has more potential leverage the higher the amount of wages at issue.

Also important is whether the employer is systematically underpaying large numbers of workers or not.

When an employer knows it may owe you and/or a number of other workers a large amount of wages, the employer knows it has more potential liability on the line if it refuses a request, or defends a legal action, for unpaid wages.



Wage Issues? Tip #4: Keep Documentation

This post continues my series of tips, or things to consider, for workers with unpaid wages.

Tip #4 is this: Keep documentation if you think you may pursue payment of unpaid wages.

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