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How to collect past due wages from an employer

When a person puts forth effort for a job and the employer refuses to pay, the employee is left with some unpleasant emotions as well as some unpaid bills. Fortunately, there are federal and state laws available to protect a New York employee from an employer who fails or refuses to pay.

There are both federal and state laws defining when wages are due. When wages are overdue, penalties may apply. Employers are normally given time limits for payment of wages. The time limits vary depending on whether the employee is to be paid by the day, the week, bimonthly or monthly.

Normally, wages are given priority treatment over other debts of the employer. In New York, unpaid fringe benefits, such as unpaid vacation time, holiday time or sick leave, can be collected as unpaid wages. In this category, it must be determined whether the employee is entitled to the fringe benefits, either by law or by the employment contract.

The employee has several avenues of choice to collect unpaid wages or benefits. Both the U.S. Department of Labor and the NYS Department of Labor can assist in pursuing a claim. Both have procedures for filing a claim. After the claim is filed, the respective Department of Labor will assign the case to one of its representatives and take necessary steps to resolve the issue.

The employee also has the option of retaining a private attorney for collection of unpaid wage and hour claims. A private attorney may contact the employer before filing the claim to determine whether the matter can be resolved quickly or whether a formal claim or lawsuit must be filed.

Source: Department of Labor 'Wage and Hour Law," NYS Department of Labor

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