In most cases, it makes sense to hire a lawyer to pursue your overtime or unpaid wage claim. This doesn’t mean you should hire a lawyer at the first sign of trouble, however. If you believe your employer hasn’t paid you fairly, start by raising the issue within your company. Ask your manager or your human resource representative about the problem, or file a complaint using your company’s internal complaint process. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for making a wage and hour complaint, whether you make it within your company or to an outside agency or court.
If your company does nothing to address your concerns – or breaks the law by firing or disciplining you for asserting your rights – then it’s time to talk to a lawyer. At this point, your options are to negotiate a settlement of your claims with your employer, file a wage claim against your employer with your state’s labor department (if your state has this type of procedure), or file a lawsuit. Having a lawyer will greatly boost your chances of success in any of these endeavors. And, because most lawyers work on a contingency fee basis in these types of cases, you won’t have to pay the lawyer unless you win. Learn more about finding a wage and hour lawyer.