Most employers in the USA are required to abide by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA has explicitly mentioned a set of wage and hour laws applicable to the employers in the country. Though exceptions to the laws exist but these apply to only a few employers. The laws cover the minimum wage, the duration of work time for which an employee must be paid, when an employee deserves overtime pay etc.
Filing a Wage Complaint
If you do think that your employer is not paying you according to the FLSA, you may have multiple options to recover your unpaid wages. You can make a complaint through the internal system at your workplace. If your employer is not aware of the issue, the complaint might work as a warning and help you get the unpaid wages.
If you don’t like to file a complaint at your office or your employer has not responded to your complaint, you are entitled to file a wage claim at the administrative level with the U.S. Department of Labor. You also have a legal right to file a suit in Federal or State Court. These are formal actions. If you are not willing to resort to any of these, it is better to consult a wage & hour attorney.
What if you have experienced your employer’s retaliation? You can bring a charge of retaliation along with your wage claim.
How Do Laws Protect You from Employer’s Retaliation?
The FLSA has stringent laws to protect employees, who file a wage claim, from their employers’ retaliation. The laws entitle you to exercise your rights if these are violated and also offer you protection if you are retaliated against. The protection applies to both formal and informal complaints and also extends to your appearance in a legal proceeding for bearing witnesses to wage violations or serving on an industry committee.
Retaliation is defined as any action or reaction that can negatively affect you or your job. Retaliations may include firing you from your job, demotion, changing your designation, transfer from one department to another, taking away responsibilities or taking actions that could make it difficult or even impossible to find other employment.
Even if you make an unintentional mistake of falsely accusing your employer of violating the FLSA, still you are safeguarded from any kind of retaliation. The law protects you as long as you believe that your employer violated the FLSA.
How to Prove Retaliation?
If you have a strong belief that your employer has retaliated against you, laws have provisions to allow you to file a wage claim or append a charge of retaliation to the already filed wage claim. You can bring an allegation of retaliation in Federal or State court. But before taking any step, you should talk to a learned lawyer if your case has the merits. The lawyer is the most competent person to make you aware of your rights against retaliation. Make sure you are approaching a lawyer who is known to have profound knowledge and experience in this niche.