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What Are Some Illegal Practices Involving Unfair Wages?

Unfair wages make up the majority of employment lawsuits. They are more common than other types of claims such as harassment or even disability claims. Unfair wage lawsuits are usually based on two different areas of employment law: wage and hour laws and discrimination Laws. 

Unfair wage lawsuits based on wage and hour laws usually involve:

  • Failure to Pay Minimum Wage: Federal and state laws require employers to pay workers at least minimum wage. This can vary, as the minimum wage rate often goes up over time
  • Withholding Overtime Pay or other wages: Failing to pay eligible workers their overtime pay is a violation of employment laws. This can also include withholding benefits like retirement funds or disability pay
  • Misclassification of Employees: Only certain employees are eligible for overtime pay. For example, “exempt” employees don’t get overtime pay. Misclassifying an employee as exempt can lead to legal consequences and an unfair wages lawsuit

Unfair wage lawsuits that are based on discrimination laws typically involve issues with unequal pay. This is where an employee is discriminated against and is paid less than another employee for the same type of work. Unfair wage claims are commonly about discrimination that was based on:

  • Race
  • Age
  • Sex
  • National Origin

What Are Some Other Issues Involved in Unfair Wages Lawsuits?

Besides the two main concerns regarding wage/hour and discrimination laws, there may be other issues involved in an unfair wages lawsuit. These can include:

  • Recordkeeping/Hours Worked: Falsifying wage records is illegal. It can negatively affect other areas such as promotion/advancement, insurance eligibility, and retirement for the employee.
  • Child Labor: Unfair wages may also involve hiring persons who shouldn’t be working in the first place, such as children

What Should I Do If I Have Legal Issues with Unfair Wages in My Workplace?

There may be several legal remedies for an Unfair Wages violation. The first involves filing a complaint with a government agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The agency will conduct an investigation and prescribe an appropriate remedy, such as requiring the employer to change their company policies.

Another option is to file a private civil lawsuit against the employer who engaged in unfair wage practices. The employee may be able to recover a monetary damages award to cover the lost wages. It’s usually necessary to file a complaint with the government agency before a civil lawsuit can be filed.  

In any event, you’ll want to compile the necessary evidence if you have any issues with unfair wages in your workplace. Evidence can include:

  • Documents, such as pay stubs
  • Work schedules
  • Tax returns 

You may also want to create a written account of the violation, so that you have a record of the events leading to the unfair wages violation.  Be sure to include contact information and testimonies of any witnesses to the violation.

Should I Hire a Lawyer If I Have Problems with Unfair Wages?

If you believe that you have a legal issue involving unfair wages, it’s in your best interest to hire an employment lawyer in your area. An experienced lawyer can help you identify which laws apply to your case, and can help you obtain a legal remedy for the violation.

Photo of page author Jessica Tran

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 01-10-2018 11:44 PM PST

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