If your employer hasn't paid you overtime, hasn't given you legally required breaks, didn't give you a final paycheck, or has otherwise not paid you everything you are owed, you should take steps to assert your rights. There are three things you can do:
- Complain within your company. Use your company's internal complaint process to raise your concerns. Ask the company to investigate and make the situation right. The law protects you from employer retaliation for asserting your wage and hour rights.
- File a wage claim. If your company doesn't resolve your complaint to your satisfaction, find out whether your state has an administrative wage claim procedure. In most states, you can file a claim with the state agency that enforces wage and hour laws. Your claim may be investigated, settled, or sent to an administrative hearing, where you can present evidence that you were not paid properly. It's a good idea to talk to an employment lawyer if you are considering filing a wage claim. A lawyer can help you word the complaint properly, present your best evidence persuasively, and reach the best possible outcome -- all while preserving your arguments for court, if things don't work out.
- File a lawsuit. If other avenues don't work, you can sue your employer in state or federal court for wage theft. At this point, you will definitely need legal representation to persuade a judge or jury to enter a judgment in your favor.