What qualifies as unpaid wages?
Unpaid wages qualify as more than just working an hour or two off the clock. Unpaid wages can also be classified as:
- Vacation earnings
- Paid breaks
When an employee should notify the employer
If an employee believes they have not been paid rightful wages, it’s important for the employee to notify their employer immediately. Under Florida law, the employer has 15 days to “resolve any claims for unpaid wages.” If the employer has not taken action after that time, the employee has a right to bring a civil suit to recover what is owed, plus the cost of your attorney fees.
Retaliation for Complaining About Wages
An employee may be reluctant to notify their employer or speak up about unpaid wages for fear of being retaliated against, including possibly being fired. However, it’s important to note that it is illegal for an employer to take retaliatory action against an employee for complaining about unpaid wages. Retaliatory action can include termination but also any type of demotion, such as a loss of privilege associated with an employee’s current position or job reassignment, among others.
Timeliness of Suit
It’s important to understand that there is a small window of time for an employee to file an administrative claim (if the local government has a “wage theft” ordinance) or lawsuit against their employer for unpaid wages. Generally, an employee has two years (known as the statute of limitations) to bring a claim for unpaid wages in Florida. If an employee misses that window of time, they could be barred from taking legal action and recovering any type of compensation. Further, initiating a claim sooner than later can also preserve documentation, evidence and other specifics about the employee’s situation.
If you have further questions about unpaid wages claims, reaching out to a legal representative is advised.