An Employer’s Refusal to Pay a Workers’ Compensation Claim Can Be Financially Devastating
Take charge by learning the legal options available to you when you go home empty handed on payday
For some workers going home with an empty wallet on payday is a minor annoyance. For those who are the only breadwinners, it can be cause for alarm. And for those who have outstanding debt, it can be disastrous. In any case, it is important to understand why you haven’t been paid and what you can do about it.
Unless you and your employer have reached an agreement that allows them to withhold some of your earnings, the single most important thing to keep in mind is that your employer is legally obligated to pay you for your all of your work. This typically includes but is not limited to your hourly earnings or salary and any applicable overtime. In some cases, mandated payments for completed tasks also include commissions, bonuses or tips that have not yet been distributed.
With the exception of executives and employees in management, New Jersey law mandates that workers be paid on designated paydays at least twice per month. The law also specifies that once a pay period ends, your employer has 10 business days in which to pay you.
There are many circumstances in which lack of payment is deliberate. But there are also cases in which lack of payment may be an honest oversight or the company may be struggling financially. If the latter is true, there simply may not be enough money on hand to pay everyone.
If you suspect that your employer forgot to pay you or that you haven’t been paid due to financial difficulties, try to resolve the matter by approaching your supervisor or someone in human resources in a courteous and professional manner. Remember that it is also important to document your concerns in writing and to keep records of any written communication between yourself and your employer.
If that does not resolve the matter, there are other options. As long as you are an actual employee (and not an exempt worker such as an independent contractor) you can file a grievance regarding lack of payment or underpayment with the state Division of Wage and Hour Compliance. This process begins by submitting the applicable paperwork to the Division. In turn, the agency will confirm receipt within a specified period and begin a review to see if it is legally permitted to handle your claim.
In cases in which the Division of Wage and Hour Compliance can address your complaint, there are several ways in which it can do so. Whether the agency forwards the complaint to an investigator, addresses it through the mail or schedules Wage Collection proceedings depends on the circumstances of your case.
The latter are forums in which employers and employees meet to resolve disagreements over wage payments ranging from small amounts to $30,000. Conducted by the Wage Collection section of the Division of Wage and Hour Compliance, the proceedings are similar to trials. One way in which they differ is that Wage Collection Referees preside at the hearings, review relevant evidence and rule accordingly. Parties that are unhappy with the rulings can appeal them to the Superior Court of New Jersey by filing applicable documents with the Wage Collection. The deadline for submission of the proper paperwork is 20 days after the ruling.
Employees can also pursue claims regarding underpayment or lack of payment through the courts. It is important to note that unlike the stipulation for Wage Collection proceedings, there is no restriction on the amount of money owed to an employee seeking remediation through the New Jersey Superior Court.
Some workers may try to improve their odds for the favorable resolution of their case by filing claims with the state Division of Wage and Hour Compliance and in court. While this is permitted, it is critical to keep in mind that the state agency will not address the matter until the court renders a decision.
Finally, the importance of retaining capable legal counsel in these cases cannot and should not be ignored. Our qualified New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys not only save you time and money, but also improve the odds of a successful outcome in your case. If your employer has refused to pay you or paid you less than minimum wage, contact Lomurro Law online or by phone at 732-482-9285.