Using an Employment Attorney to Protect Your Fair Wages

We all work hard at any form of employment we are engaged in and are entitled to earn a fair wage for an honest day's worth of work.  If you feel you are not receiving a decent wage, your first step would be to speak to your employer and make sure it is not a bookkeeping error. If you discover the lost amount of wages not being paid to you are going towards unlawful deductions, shorted hours, or out-right wage theft, you are a victim who needs legal representation.

When you are denied the wages you've earned, you need an Employment Attorney on your side. An Employment Attorney specializes in protecting your rights if you've been fired from your job unfairly, discriminated against by your employee, have been retaliated against for blowing the whistle, or have suffered from any other unfair employment practice. Your employer has an attorney working for them, and you deserve protection too. Contact an Employment Attorney today if you or someone you know is not receiving a fair wage.

Your Wages are Protected

State and federal laws govern the wages you are expected to be paid. There are extensive rules and regulations in place; however, understanding how these rules and laws apply to your situation can be difficult. Having an attorney on your side will help you understand these laws and determine if you are due not only unpaid wages but compensation as well. In California under certain circumstances, you if your employer fails to pay salaries, you may have grounds to file additional claims.

Your attorney will be able to determine if your case warrants filing a claim if:

  • Your employer has not allowed you to take your breaks that are times provided by law and which you are entitled to during a scheduled work day
  • You have not been paid for accrued vacation time which you have not taken
  • You have not been paid for work time while you have been off the clock and which your employer has requested you to perform
  • You have not been paid premium overtime pay for hours worked over the legal straight-hour maximum. Federal law states there are forty hours in a work week and eight hours in a workday
  • You have work-related travel time during your regular work day which your employer is not compensating you

These are not all clear-cut claims as some states do not enforce all these restrictions. Your Employment Attorney will understand the guidelines in your state and be able to file the appropriate declarations to ensure you a fair wage.

If it is determined your employer has violated hour and wage laws, you are able to sue them. There are other options as well, such as filing a claim for unpaid wages with the state labor department against your employer. In these situations, the labor department will hold a hearing on the matter and determine an outcome. This route is not always in your best interest.

By filing a claim with the labor department, you close your options for being able to file a lawsuit. With this limitation, you may not recover the full unpaid wage amounts you are entitled. Discuss this option with your attorney and make sure you follow the best possible route to receive a fair outcome.

How Do I Know If I'm Victim of Unpaid or Unfair Wage Practice?

When you keep track of the hours you are putting in on the job and know the amount of your hourly wage, you should have a good idea of how much your check will be on payday. Wage theft often occurs when employers won't pay for overtime hours, force employees to work 'off the clock,' pay less than minimum wages, illegally deduct amounts from paychecks, fail to pay for work completed, and other illegal wage-withholdings. These are some of the situations employees find themselves in and the action they can take:

Paychecks are shorted hours

If you notice your paycheck is not listing the full amount of hours you put in for the pay period, your first step is to ask your employer why there is a difference. It is important you keep a record for yourself of the hours put in each pay period, so you have documentation to show.

It is possible there was an accounting error either with the bank or the payroll office at your employment, so ask your employer first to explain the discrepancy. Most states have laws in place that mandate employers pay their employees for all hours worked, or they will face penalties. Some employers could even face criminal prosecution for not complying with these laws.

The Federal Government requires that employers pay their workers at least the minimum wage. The Wage-Hour Division enforces these requirements within the United States Department of Labor. If you have been paid at least the minimum wage amount for the number of hours you've worked, the Federal Government or Labor Department will not be able to help you. You will need an Employment Attorney working with you to determine your course of action.

Not receiving the minimum wage

The Federal Government has set the minimum wage an employer can pay their employees. There are also state laws that govern a minimum wage that can be paid. The Federal wage is enforced by the Wage-Hour Division and is part of the United States Department of Labor.

In the State of California, the minimum wage is increased each year under the guidelines of the California Labor Code. As of January 1, 2019, the minimum wage an employer can pay increased from $11 an hour to $12 an hour. Certain areas such as San Jose have set a separate increase to go into effect as of the first of the year. If you work in the San Jose area, you are now entitled to a minimum wage of $15 per hour. Other areas such as Los Angeles County will increase their minimum wage requirement on July 1, 2109. If you work in Los Angeles County after this date, you will be entitled to a minimum wage of $14.25 per hour.

It is an illegal act for your employer not to follow these laws and pay a fair wage for a day of work performed by an employee.

Employers deduct losses from employee paychecks

This practice is actually allowed under the law as long as your paycheck amount does not go below what the minimum wage amount would be and is equal to the hours you've worked. You cannot be paid any less the equivalent to minimum wage, and they cannot reduce your overtime compensation.

Certain states do limit the deductions an employer may take for cash-register shortages. Check with your state's laws in regards to deductions allowed or contact the state department which is in charge of the hour and labor standard violations in your state.

Not receiving commissions which were earned

You are not able to file a complaint with the Federal Labor Department for not receiving commissions as they do not enforce these payments. This does not mean you are not entitled to the payment. Commissions are set up under a contractual right which means you are entitled to the wage you have earned.

Begin by sending a letter to your employer notifying them that you have not received the commission which has been earned. If this process does not resolve the issue, you should contact an Employment Attorney who understands contracts and can help you receive the amount you are owed.

Paychecks are not being issued

If you do not receive a paycheck on your scheduled payday, you should immediately record the hours worked during the time you were to be paid. You also need to register any expenses that occurred due to you not receiving your check on time. These amounts would include interest charges or late fees you incurred as a result of not having money to meet your obligations.

Begin by asking your employer for an explanation to determine if there was a bank error or mistake in the payroll department. Many times if the bank has made a payroll error, they will cover any late fees that you suffered as a result of the delay.

Many states have laws in place that require employers to pay their employees for the hours worked within a specific time frame. These time frames can be bi-weekly, bi-monthly, or some other regular interval. If employers fail to comply with this law, they could face penalties and even possible criminal prosecution.

If you are not receiving your fair wage for the hours you've completed, you need to contact an Employment Attorney. The attorney understands the laws of your state will fight for you to receive your fair pay. Attorneys are able to determine if there is compensation due to you for any unfair or illegal practices done by your employer.

Paycheck is not honored by the bank

As soon as you have been notified by the bank that your paycheck will not be covered, you need to record the hours you worked for that pay period. Keep the pay stub and all other documents related to your checking account and from the bank that verify non-payment of funds to you.

Your first step should be to talk to your employer to determine if there was an accounting error with payroll or the bank and if the matter will be resolved quickly. If you have incurred any late fees or interest charges due to not having the money, you should discuss them and ask for reimbursement.

Most states have laws in place that require employers to have the necessary funds to cover all their payroll checks. Failing to comply with these laws could mean your employer will face penalties or even criminal prosecution. Contact an Employment Attorney in your area to find out your state laws and how we can help you receive the money you deserve.

Paychecks are not including overtime hour pay

It is the law that if you work more than forty hours in one week, you are entitled to receive one and one-half times the regular pay for each hour worked over the forty hours. Individual states have their overtime pay laws, and if both federal and state overtime laws apply, your employer must follow the stricter of the two.

Overtime laws were created to protect you, the employee, and your employer is required by law to pay you the appropriate amount for hours worked over the forty in any one week. The Wage-Hour Division enforces the laws within the United States Department of Labor. Contact an Employment Attorney if you are not being compensated for your overtime hours. We can help you file and ensure you receive the fair wage you've earned.

Not receiving promised bonuses

Unfortunately, the Fair Standards Act does not require your employer to pay bonuses. You are not able to pursue payment for these amounts through the Federal government agencies; however, this does not mean you are not entitled to the payments.

You have the contractual right to receive these amounts as promised. Contact an Employment Attorney who understands these rights and can help you obtain the bonus payments as promised. Begin by drafting a letter to your employer advising them the bonus was not received and inquire if it was an error. If it turns out they are withholding these amounts willfully, our attorneys can help you claim what has been justly earned.

Employer files bankruptcy before paying you time earned

If your employer files for bankruptcy before paying your wages for time worked, you might be entitled to priority, meaning you may be due a greater prorated payment ahead of their other creditors. Priority exists to employees for unpaid wages up to $4,000 that has been earned within ninety days prior to the filing of bankruptcy.

Your wages, vacation pay, sick leave, severance pay, commissions, and other earned amounts under your employment contract under $4,000 are considered 'priority' in bankruptcy filings by employers. These earnings will be paid ahead of other debts incurred by your employer. Amounts over $4,000 or earned more than ninety days before filing will fall into the general debt category and are considered unsecured debts.

If you are still working with an employer who is declaring bankruptcy, you should verify that the bankruptcy court is going to approve your wages. Bankruptcy proceedings generally require an employer pay their employees, but at a reduced salary, and in some cases will not allow payment for wages until the final distribution of assets has been completed.

If your employer has filed bankruptcy and you have not been paid your earned wages, and are concerned you will not receive the payments due you, contact an attorney to ensure your rights are protected. Bankruptcy is a complicated process with many legal requirements. You want to make sure your priority wage claim does not get lost during the process and that it is filed within the statutory deadline.

Who Protects my Rights to Fair Pay?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) established in 1938 is a federal law which was created to protect your rights to receive fair pay for a day’s work. It created the minimum wage, child labor standards, overtime pay eligibility and protects employees who work full or part-time in the private sector as well as in the local, state, or federal governments.

If you are one of two or more employees working for an employer that earns at least $500,000, you are protected under the laws set by the Fair Labor Standards Act. If you work for a school, preschool, hospital, government agency or a business providing nursing or medical care for residents, you are also protected under these laws.

Your rights are still protected even if you do not work for one of these listed employers. The Fair Labor Standards Act covers almost any employment except those they consider exempt. An exempt employee is one who is not subject to the minimum wage and overtime requirements.

How Do I Know If I Am an Exempt Employee?

In your position of employment are you considered to be an executive, administrative, professional, outside sales rep, or computer rep? If your title is one of these, you must meet these requirements under FLSA guidelines in order to not be considered eligible for minimum wages and overtime compensation.


Does your job involve managing a department or the company with at least two full-time employees working under your direction? Are you responsible for hiring and firing employees or at least part of the decision process for these acts? If you can answer, 'yes,' to these questions, then you would be considered an 'exempt' employee and not eligible for FLSA protection of receiving the minimum wage and overtime pay benefits.

If you are an exempt employee and are not receiving your fair wage, you should contact an Employment Attorney as your rights still require protection. We can help you obtain the salary you've earned, and check if compensation is due for any withheld amounts from your employer.


To determine if FLSA considers you an administrative employee ask yourself if you perform office work which relates directly to the operations of the business and if you are responsible for making decisions that affect essential business matters. If you can answer 'yes' to these questions, then the FLSA does not consider you protected under the minimum wage and overtime pay protection.


The FLSA considers your employment to be professional if your work is intellectual in nature and you are employed in the science or learning field. If you have been trained to work in a specialized area of study, they consider you to be a professional and not eligible for the minimum wage or overtime pay protection.

Computer Specialist

If your title is a computer analyst, programmer, software engineer or other computer science occupation, you are most likely not covered under the FLSA minimum wage and overtime pay protection. If you apply systems, procedures and consult with computer users to determine specifications than you are not eligible.

Outside Sales

There are outside sales representatives that are entitled to the minimum wage and overtime protection and some that fall outside the guidelines. If you sell services or goods to customers in return for payment or work mainly outside your employer's place of business, then you would not qualify for minimum wage and overtime pay protection.

If you fall into the category of an 'exempt' employee, it does not mean you are not entitled to fair pay for the job you are performing. Being an exempt employee does not mean you won't run into situations of wage theft where an employer attempts to withhold money from you that you've earned. If you are a victim of wage theft under any employment situation, you need to contact an Employment Attorney to ensure you receive compensation of monies owed to you.

Is There an Employment Attorney Near Me?

If you or someone you know is a victim of wage theft contact, Stop Unpaid Wages at 424-781-8411. Our work employment attorneys understand the state guidelines and laws and are here for you to make sure your rights are protected. You can also visit our website and discover the different services we have available for you.