After the termination of employment, it is not unusual for an employee to ask their employer to pay them any outstanding wages for the work they have done. Under Florida law, however, there is no specific timeframe that an employer is required to pay an employee by. If you are an employee and you are still owed money, there are a few options you can do to demand unpaid wages from either a current or previous employer.
If your claim for unpaid wages proceeds to trial, the court will determine a reasonable time frame for the employer to pay. Each situation varies case by case, but the normal time frame is generally two weeks. It is important to remember that if the fallout between you and your employer was about the amount owed or whether the work was done, the employer will be able to raise those issues as a defense to your case.
What If I Do Not Have Evidence of What I was Supposed to be Paid?
If you signed a contract with an employer describing job requirements and compensation, or orally agreed to work with them, you were working “under contract”. Under Florida employment law, depending on the validity of the contract, you will be able to enforce what is entitled to you pertaining to the terms of the contract. It is not uncommon to contact or consult with a lawyer to determine the validity of the contract.
If, however, the contract is not valid, or there was never a contract to begin with, you will still be entitled to the payment you were promised. If there is no written agreement that specifies the terms of compensation, then obtaining evidence of the total amount of wages you are owed is where the issue arises.
What Legal Action Can I Take?
There are three possible options you can take if you would like to pursue legal action. The first would be a claim under wage theft statutes. These laws permit employees to bring claims when the employer unlawfully withholds their claims. Some Florida counties have issued ordinances that give the employer 14 calendar days from the day on which the work was performed to pay the employee. If they do not, there is a recovery process that employees can go through to get their pay.
The second would be to file a complaint with the Department of Labor (DOL). When an employer fails to pay their employees for work they performed in any given work week, it violates deferral and/or state minimum wage laws. When you, as an employee, file a complaint with the DOL, it will open an investigation, which might result in compensation of unpaid wages if they find there was a violation of federal law.
The third option would be to go to court. If the employee takes the matter to court to recover the unpaid wages and wins, the employer may be liable for not only the wages owed, but sometimes even double damages and attorney’s fees and cost. The statute of limitations for these claims is 4 years. You would be entitled to recover what you were owed and can possibly recover more if you suffered more damages if you file within 4 years.