Being in an oppressive work environment is similar to being in any kind of abusive relationship—it can be emotionally devastating. When you’re treated poorly, you can be made to feel like you deserve such treatment—and that you have no course of action against it.
If your wages are unlawfully low, you may be concerned that the legal fees associated with a lawsuit would likely overshadow any compensation you could receive. If you’re an undocumented worker, your manager may make you feel like you have no right to fair pay.
These assumptions are simply untrue. It’s important to understand that there are multiple laws protecting all workers from such conditions. Under federal law, employers must:
- Pay at least the minimum wage—which is $7.25 an hour in 2018
- Pay overtime to employees working more than 40 hours a week—which is 150 percent of their hourly wage
What Kind of Compensation Can I Stand to Receive?
If you sue an employer over lost wages, you can stand to recover “damages”—monetary compensation for unfair treatment. You could be entitled to all of the following damages:
- Unpaid wages: The court will order your employer to compensate you for any wages they should have originally paid you.
- Interest: Your employer will also have to pay interest on unpaid wages calculated from the original date they should have been paid.
- Penalties: It’s possible that a court may order your employer to pay you an additional sum as a penalty.
- Attorney fees: In some wage dispute cases, the employer may even have to pay for your attorney fees.
No one should have to tolerate unlawfully low wages. Don’t let your boss treat you like a victim; know that you have legal recourse. Consulting with an experienced employment attorney about your case is a valuable first step.