Category Archives: Employee Tips – Unpaid Wages

Wage Issues? Tip #6: When Finding a Wage Attorney, Think National, Ask the Important Questions Upfront, and Other Things to Consider

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

Tip #6 is this: When Finding a Wage Attorney, Think National, Ask the Important Questions Upfront, and Other Things to Consider.

Here’s an (obvious) disclosure upfront: I am a wage attorney, so it benefits me to talk to workers about the best ways to find a wage attorney.

So, while you should consider the source, so to speak, you should also consider the logic of what I’m about to say, to see if it makes sense and is worth taking into consideration.

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Wage Issues? Tip #2: Know that Statutes of Limitations (Deadlines) Apply, and Are of Pressing Importance

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This post continues my series of tips, or things to consider, for workers with unpaid wages.Tip #2 is this: Know that statutes of limitations (deadlines) apply, and are of pressing importance.

Every situation that involves unpaid wages also involves a ticking clock.  That is, there are statutes of limitations, i.e. deadlines, that apply to your unpaid wages.

Many wage laws have a two (2)- year deadline, and that deadline likely only applies to a period before the complaint-filing date.  For example, Wisconsin wage law has a two-year deadline, and if a Wisconsin State wage complaint were filed in court on April 26, 2011, the worker could only seek unpaid wages for the two-year block dating back to April 26, 2009.  With each day that passes, in this example, a day’s worth of potentially recoverable unpaid wages is lost.

Please note that several laws, with several different deadlines, could apply to one situation of unpaid wages.  I have seen situations where over five (5) potential legal claims existed for one worker with unpaid wages.  Further, some laws (if you are fortunate enough they apply to you) provide for longer deadlines, ranging from three (3) to six (6) year deadlines, and in rare instances longer periods.

In sum, there can be multiple different laws, and multiple different deadlines, that can apply to one situation of unpaid wages.

Because such deadlines exist, if you have unpaid wages you should act promptly to (1) evaluate potential legal claims; (2) determine the potential claims’ merits and deadlines; and (3) if there are potential claims you feel are worth pursuing, take legal action (negotiate with the employer and/or file a legal complaint).

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Work Hours Deducted From Paycheck? Don’t Give Your Employer a Free Lunch.

Free Lunch!
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Has your employer deducted money from your paycheck for hours that you worked?

Some employers will make mandatory deductions from hourly workers’ paychecks, without regard to time actually worked.  For example, some employers will automatically deduct one half-hour per day for a “required” lunch period, and will make this deduction without checking whether the employee was actually OFF work, and actually took a break, during that time.

Moreover, the employee’s work circumstances may have given him or her no choice but to work through lunch.  It is one thing for an employer to say an employee is free to take a lunch break, or “must” take a lunch break every day.  But that expectation of the employer does little good if there are competing expectations (e.g. busy schedules, complaining customers, limited time available, etc.) that demand an employee perform work during the designated lunch time.

Please know that if you actually WORK during the deducted periods of time (e.g. you worked during the deducted “lunch” breaks), it is NOT acceptable for the employer to reap the benefits of your work without paying you.

It is not enough for the employer to claim they told you that you were prohibited from working.

The Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) at 29 C.F.R. § 785.13 (Duty of management) provides the following:

“[I]t is the duty of the management to exercise its control and see that the work is not performed if it does not want it to be performed. It cannot sit back and accept the benefits without compensating for them. The mere promulgation of a rule against such work is not enough. Management has the power to enforce the rule and must make every effort to do so.”

If you are not being paid for work that you performed, you should consider having an employee rights attorney review your circumstances to see whether you should be receiving wages for the deducted periods, and whether the employer is violating wage law.  You may have good legal options to claim wages, and/or take back your free lunch.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is not legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship between you and attorney Michael Brown or his law firm.

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H-1B Workers’ Fears vs. Fighting for Your Rights

Fear is the biggest factor that holds many H-1B workers back from approaching their employer (or former employer), and asking for their underpaid wages, or from taking legal action.

H-1B workers do in fact have several options and legal rights. Some of those rights are very powerful.

However, those rights will not do you any good unless you are willing to pursue them. To fight to enforce your rights. To make educated and bold decisions, and stick to them. To know that, in order to achieve what you want to, you will have to take on some risks.

A fraudulent H-1B employer has many more risks than an underpaid H-1B worker does. Many H-1B employers would be willing to discuss an amicable settlement with an underpaid H-1B worker rather than deal with a legal action, and face the potentially severe liabilities. Yet the employers don’t seem to worry nearly as much as do the H-1B employees.

If you are an H-1B worker, and are too fearful to talk to your employer about unpaid wages, I can understand where you’re coming from, and I could never judge you for feeling that way.

However, I do ask that you not contact me, asking me to spend hours of time discussing legal rights that you know you’d never pursue anyway, because of your fears. Only if it’s possible you could commit to assuming some risks and pursuing your rights could an attorney possibly help you.

If you don’t take action, you may well face risks (e.g. an employer’s underpayments could be hurting your immigration status). If you do take action, you may well face risks (e.g. the employer may threaten deportation). You’ve got to deal with your situation.

In dealing with your situation: (1) don’t let fear control you; (2) know the risks are there, and that you must deal with them; (3) educate yourself about your legal rights and options; (4) learn what options present the lowest risks and highest potential benefits; (5) make an educated decision; and (6) don’t second-guess yourself. Only if you are willing to overcome your fear and accept risks would you have any chance to obtain what you’re owed, and to improve your immigration status and options.

Additional Information

For more H-1B employee rights information, please visit the blog www.h1blegalrights.com.

To learn more about H-1B rights and options, please see these posts:

For information about H-1B Rights & Immigration Rights Attorneys Michael F. Brown and Vonda K. Vandaveer, please visit here.

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FAQS- If You Were Underpaid as an H-1B Worker and Are No Longer in the U.S.

If you were underpaid as an H-1B, and are now outside the U.S., below are some frequently asked questions and answers.

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Employee Tip: If You’re an H-1B Worker Being Underpaid Wages, Consider These Things

If you are an H-1B professional worker who is being underpaid wages, please know that you have legal rights. The information below describes your rights as an H-1B professional, and factors and options you should consider before taking legal action or pursuing your wages.

Please note this post does not provide legal advice- if you want legal advice, you should contact an attorney and discuss your specific circumstances. If you are interested in legal assistance from attorney-author Michael Brown or his law firm DVG Law Partner for your matter, please contact them here:

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Employee Tip: Document, Document, Document (And SAVE Documents!)

If you are an employee with concerns about your employer, or you think you may pursue a legal action someday, please know that the documentation you keep is critical.  Do not assume the employer or others will keep important documents and produce them to you later, or will agree with your undocumented recollections of events.

More about documentation…

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Employee Tip: Do I Have a Case? Attributes of Good Employment Law Claims

Employees who feel wronged by an employer often want to know whether they may have a legal claim worth pursuing, i.e. “Do I have a case?”   This post will identify common attributes of good employee rights cases.

Please note this post does not provide legal advice- if you want legal advice, you should contact an attorney and discuss your specific circumstances. If you are interested in legal assistance from attorney-author Michael Brown or his law firm DVG Law Partner for your matter, please contact them here:

Generally speaking, an employee rights case is more promising, and more worthwhile to pursue, when several or all of the following factors are present:

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Employee Tip: Things to Consider If You Have Unpaid Wages

If you have been underpaid wages, you may want to consider the following.

Please note this post does not provide legal advice- if you want legal advice, you should contact an attorney and discuss your specific circumstances. If you are interested in legal assistance from attorney-author Michael Brown or his law firm DVG Law Partner for your matter, please contact them here:

  • Keep copies of your paystubs and pay-related documents.

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Employee Tip: FAQs of Workers With Unpaid Wages

The article below answers three common questions of workers who have unpaid wages.

Three FAQs of Wisconsin Workers With Unpaid Wages

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