How to Sue an Employer for Non Payment

By Jonita Davis

Your hard-earned paycheck is given in return for completing a task that your employer could not do alone. It's an agreement between employer and employee. A paycheck is required in exchange for work unless there is a previous agreement otherwise. When an employer fails to issue payment for work done, that employer can be sued for nonpayment of wages.

Gather up your evidence. You will need proof that you worked the hours, the times and the dates. The evidence can be time cards, schedules or even witnesses who can verify that you worked those hours. Employment contracts, job descriptions and performance evaluations also are helpful in establishing your wage, duties at work and work hours.

Send a letter to your employer stating that they must pay or your will file a lawsuit. Give them a deadline so that the process doesn't lag and you show how serious you are. Send the letter to the employer via certified mail. Send copies to the home office as well.

Go to your county courthouse and file suit. Your case is a small-claims court matter if the amount of wages owed is a small amount. In most states, the amount must be less than $5,000. Anything more than that will require litigation and a formal lawsuit. You file by paying a fee and completing paperwork (called a petition) that includes your reason for suing the employer. While you easily can argue your case in small-claims court without an attorney, you should at least consult one before entering into a formal suit with the employer.

Get notice out to the employer. If you have an attorney, he or she will take over to complete the rest of the process. However, plaintiffs filing unassisted will have to get notice of the lawsuit to the employer. The county sheriff's office and other court officials might be available for the job.

Show up to the hearing with evidence to back your claims. Appear even if your defendant (the employer) does not show. The judge will hear both sides and send the case to a jury in a formal lawsuit or make a judgment in a small-claims case. You can appeal the ruling if you do not find it fair.

Contact the courts if you have trouble getting your payments after the courts rule in your favor. They have ways of obtaining your money, including liens against the company property and garnishing the incomes of individuals found liable for the nonpayment.

About the Author

Jonita Davis is freelance writer and marketing consultant. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including "The LaPorte County Herald Argus" and Work.com. Davis also authored the book, "Michigan City Marinas," which covers the history of the Michigan City Port Authority. Davis holds a bachelor's degree in English from Purdue University.

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