What should I do if my employer owes me unpaid wages?

Figures from the United States Department of Labor (DOL) reveal how common unpaid wages are in the workplace. In 2002, 2035 complaints were made to the DOL regarding violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, which protects employees’ wage and hour rights.

This number grew to 7006 complaints in 2011 and 7064 complaints in 2012 – a staggering rise, more than tripling the cases in just 10 years.

Common Arguments

Here are the most common arguments or justifications given by an employer for unpaid wages, commissions, and bonuses:


  • “I do not owe you that money.”
  • “You owe me money, so I’m not paying you.”

No Funds

  • “I don’t have the money. I’ll pay you when I can.”

Justifications to Withhold Pay

  • “I’m not paying you commission on that. It’s too huge.”
  • “You do not deserve this money.”

Hours Dispute

  • “You didn’t work those hours.”
  • “You worked unscheduled hours.”
  • “I didn’t approve overtime for you.”

Vacation Dispute

  • “No, you already took your paid vacation days.”


  • Failure to pay is often an illegal tactic to try to make you quit.

What You Can Collect

You can of course collect for unpaid wages. You may be able to collect additional funds as well:

  1. Overtime – If your employer owes you for time worked over 40 per week, you may be able to collect 1½ times your hourly rate (which also applies to some salaried positions).
  2. Back wages & Liquidated Damages – Liquidated damages double the amount you are paid as a penalty. If you are owed $3000, you receive $6000.
  3. Legal Fees – A potential advantage of going to court is that (per FLSA guidelines) if you win, your employer must pay the full cost for your attorney.

How We Can Help

At Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. we are Tampa’s premier employment law firm. We focus entirely on employment law. Let us help you protect your rights.

Call us today.

Unpaid Wages, Commissions & Bonuses Resources


Image of not getting paid for wages? FLSA Ebook Image of not getting paid for wages? FLSA Ebook
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