Collecting Final Wages from Your Employer
Most of us don’t work for free. If your employer hasn’t paid you all of the wages you’ve earned, then that’s exactly what you’d be doing. What follows is a quick guide on what to do if your employer owes you wages. The rules for wages due to an employee upon separation from their employment in Minnesota are located in Minnesota Statute §§ 181.13 and 181.14.
If You’ve Been Terminated
If you’ve been terminated by your employer, then Minnesota Statute § 181.13 requires that your employer pay you your final wages within 24 hours of your termination. If your employer doesn’t pay you within those 24 hours, the employer will be in default and will be liable to the employee for his/her regular rate of pay for up to fifteen days.
If You’ve Voluntarily Left Your Employment
If you’ve voluntarily left your employment, then Minnesota Statute § 181.14 requires that your employer pay you your final wages by your next pay day following the date you left your employment. The date of payment is not permitted to be longer than 20 days after your last day.
How to Collect Your Final Wages
First, you need to inform your former employer than you are still owed wages in writing. You do not need to know the exact amount of wages that you are owed, but you do need to make a demand in writing. The Department of Labor & Industry (“DLI”) suggests you send the letter to your employer via certified mail to ensure that they received notice of your claim. Form letters are available on the DLI website here: http://www.dli.mn.gov/ls/FinalWages.asp
If your employer does not meet the standards explained in Minnesota Statutes §§ 181.13 and 181.14, you have two options. One is that you can file a wage claim with the Labor Standards unit at the Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry. The statute of limitations for making a wage claim with DLI is two years. DLI suggests you include the following information when you contact DLI about your wage claim: 1) your name, address and telephone number; 2) your former employer’s name, address, telephone number and manager or owner’s name; 3) your last day of work; 4) the date you demanded your final wages; 5) the amount you are due in final wages (if unknown provide as accurate an estimate as possible); 6) the dates you worked for your former employer yet were not paid; and 7) whether you were terminated from your job or you quit your job.
Second, you are also permitted to bring a lawsuit against your former employer for those wages. Note that if the wages you are owed are less than $10,000, you would need to file your complaint in small claims court. If the wages are more than $10,000, you would file in state district court.
If you’ve been let go from your job or have found a new job but are still owed wages by your former employer, contact a lawyer a right away to help you get the wages you already earned. Otherwise, you’re just working for free.
Joe Larson is a Twin Cities-based employment and personal injury attorney. For more information about Joe and his firm, please visit www.joelarsonlaw.com. For help with your employment law questions, call him at 612.618.8361.