In the United States, wage and hour laws are in place for employees who are paid an hourly wage or otherwise nonexempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). If your employer has not been paying you overtime pay for the overtime hours you have worked, they may be guilty of wage theft.

If you have become a victim of wage theft, it is possible for you to take action to gain back what you are owed. You may be able to do this by contacting the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, (WHD) which is responsible for enforcing the FLSA. By doing this, you may be able to successfully get back what you are owed through a legal order. However, if this is not successful, you may want to consider suing your employer.

How can I sue my employer for underpayment?

Wage theft should be considered a theft just like any other. You have worked hours for which you have not been paid what you are entitled to, and, as a result, you are missing payment. Therefore, by seeing your employer in your local court or in small claims court, you may be able to get back the owed wages.

Factors to consider

You must first consider your employment situation. For example, some employees do not have the right to charge overtime — if you are an independent contractor, it is likely that you do not have overtime pay written into your contract, and you will not be entitled to FLSA wage and hour provisions. However, if you are a permanent worker and you believe that your employer has intentionally mislabeled you as a contractor to avoid having to pay you overtime, you may have legal grounds to dispute this type of manipulation.

It’s important that you do not allow your employer to underpay you. Make sure that you use the legal tools at your disposal to get the back pay that you deserve.