What Should I do If My Employer Didn’t Pay Me for All the Hours I Worked?


Employees often make the mistake of assuming that the numbers on their paycheck are correct. After all, businesses have accounting teams in place to handle this issue. However, the fact is that companies often make errors when it comes to worker compensation — and not all of them are accidental.

Sometimes businesses look for ways of shortchanging their employees, neglecting to pay them for all the hours they worked or compensating them at the wrong rate. Even small paycheck mistakes can add up to big losses, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your salary and stay alert to any errors.

Laws Surrounding Unpaid Wages

Arizona has laws in place to protect workers whose companies neglect to pay them. In the event that an employer is found to be acting in bad faith, employees may recoup up to three times their unpaid wages along with the value of sick days, severance, and bonuses. Additionally, employees can recover what they spent on attorneys if they had to seek representation.

Federal law also requires many companies to pay their employees overtime. If you work more than 40 hours in a given week, your employer must pay you 150 percent of your wage for the extra hours. Note that overtime laws apply to any company that operates interstate.

Potential Problems With Your Paycheck

Paycheck problems are all too common, and there are many ways in which employers can shortchange you. In general, workers should be paid for all the hours they work including time spent preparing, training, or cleaning up after a shift. Additionally, travel time should be included in the number of hours reflected on your chek.

Additionally, employees should review their checks to ensure that their hourly rate is correct. While the federal government imposes a minimum wage on companies, states and even certain cities also have their own wage requirements. Note that employers must pay their workers whichever wage is higher in their location. Depending on your employer and worker status, you may also be eligible for overtime pay based on the number of hours you worked in a given week.

Steps to Take If You Aren’t Getting Paid

You deserve to be paid for every hour you work and receive all the benefits owed to you. The good news is that you don’t have to sit back and accept either deliberate or accidental paycheck mistakes. Here are some steps to take if you believe that your check is made out for the wrong amount:

  • Talk to your boss or HR team: Honest paycheck mistakes do happen from time to time. If your employer didn’t realize that your check was made out incorrectly, they may be willing to correct the mistake upon you telling them. Be sure that you receive any missing funds in your next check.
  • Keep careful records: If you think your employer is deliberately shortchanging you, start keeping detailed records of the hours you work. Be sure to include travel time, cleanup, and breaks of 20 minutes or less. This information will be invaluable in the event that you have to take your employer to court.
  • Talk to your fellow employees: If your paycheck constantly has mistakes, there’s a good chance you aren’t the only one experiencing the problem. Consider talking to your colleagues to see if they are also having an issue. You may even want to approach your employer as a group to discuss what actions need to be taken moving forward.
  • File a complaint: If you informed your company of the problem and they refused to correct it in a timely manner, you may need to take legal action. You can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor, Wages and Hour Division or the Arizona state labor agency.
  • Contact an attorney: In some cases, suing your employer may be the only way to recover lost wages and get justice. If your company owes you $5,000 or less, you may be able to handle the issue in small claims court. If your employer owes you a larger amount of money, consider speaking to an employment law attorney about next steps. In some cases, going to court is the only way to recover lost wages or overtime pay.

The award-winning team at JacksonWhite Law is ready and waiting to handle your employment law case. Whether you’re dealing with unpaid wages, overtime issues, workplace harassment, or another issue, you can trust our knowledgeable attorneys to be in your corner.

Call our Employment Law team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.

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