As employers struggle to pay bills and keep the lights on many have reduced staffing in human resources and accounting departments or bringing payroll in house which leads to struggles in paying employees correctly.  When these services begin to fail employers will find themselves in trouble with employee wage laws.

An unfortunate byproduct of a poor economy is the reality that some employers will not pay employees wages when they leave their employment.  Minnesota law strictly states that under Minnesota Statute Section 181.14, that when an employee leaves a job, wages earned must be paid no later than the next regularly scheduled payday following the employee’s final day of employment, unless that payday is less than 5 calendar days from the final day of employment.  If this occurs, the final paycheck may be delayed to the next regularly scheduled payday so long as it does not exceed 20 calendar days from the last day of work.  This applies to all regular wage earning employees unless a collective bargaining agreement is in place.  Persons who earn money as commission or work as independent contractors are not going to qualify under this law.  However, another common issue that arises is employer misclassifying employees as independent contract when they should be treated as employees and receive regular wages via a Federal W-2.

Other common wage issues that can arise include failure of an employer to pay overtime, failure to pay for expenses such as mileage, employers requiring employees to work off the clock and failure of an employer to give breaks.  Additionally, some employers fail to take into consideration both Federal and State of Minnesota laws as they relate to overtime. Most employees in Minnesota should receive time-and-a-half for hours worked beyond 48 hours in a single work week.  However, some employees are exempt from these rules for overtime and may be paid a different overtime schedule under collective bargaining rules.

Employees that are not paid properly should seek the immediate advice of an employment law attorney.  Lawsuits for unpaid wages are common and victims who have not been paid correctly can seek attorney’s fees and penalties in addition to the wages owed.  Minnesota law has what is known as a fee-shifting statute.  A fee shifting statute makes the employer responsible for paying for the employee’s attorney’s fees when a suit for certain types of violations of the law, such as unpaid overtime and unpaid wages, are brought before a Minnesota court.

Any employee who thinks he or she may have been paid incorrectly should seek the advice of an employment law attorney.  An employment law attorney can break down the specific violations of the laws that have occurred and explain the law to the employee, write a letter to the employer demanding payment for unpaid wages, explain job protections against retaliation by the employer for bringing a wage claim and ultimately file a lawsuit if that step becomes necessary.