can be filed under either federal or state law in Texas. There are some reasons why one may want to choose to pursue a claim under federal or Texas state law. One important consideration for the employee is which process is best for recovering unpaid wages. If you believe you have an unpaid wage claim in Texas then you should contact Texas employment lawyers right away.
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Unpaid wage and overtime pay in Texas under the Fair Labor Standards Act
Federal law allows employees to recover unpaid wages for up to two years in the past (sometimes three years). To preserve an unpaid wage claim, the employee must file a wage claim with the federal Department of Labor. The DOL will investigate if there is a reasonable belief of a violation of federal wage and hour laws and if the investigation proves true, it will attempt to recover back payments. If the DOL does not have a reasonable belief of a violation, investigates but does not conclude unpaid wages are owed, or cannot recover, it will inform the employee of his or her right to file suit in federal court.
Even though federal law allows for recovery of two years of back pay for unpaid wages, an employee should not wait to file a claim because the DOL investigation does not stop the limitations period from running. If the two years runs before the investigation is complete then most likely the DOL investigation will be your only way to recover. The DOL recommends filing a claim no later than 18 months after the event that lead to unpaid wages to make sure the investigation finishes before the limitations runs.
Unpaid overtime and wages under the Texas Payday Law
The Texas provides a more limited process. Texas also has an administrative process to file a claim with the Texas Workforce Commission. However, the TWC only accepts claims for unpaid wages in the preceding 180 days (roughly six months). The TWC will investigate and issue a Preliminary Wage Determination Order (PWDO). After a PWDO is issued, both the employee and employer will have just 21 days to appeal. You can appeal a PWDO to either the TWC as an administrative appeal or to the courts as a judicial appeal.
If you appeal to the courts an entire trial will occur. Should neither side appeal within 21 days the employer owes the unpaid wages stated in the PWDO. If the employer does not voluntarily pay in 30 days the PWDO becomes a final order and the TWC will send their collections unit after the employer.
In addition to the deadlines discussed above, another reason exists to move quickly on unpaid wage claims. Unpaid wages are only recovered from the employer. Often an employer does not pay wages because it does not have the money. It may owe many employees wages. A key concern is that the employer will declare bankruptcy to avoid paying unpaid wages. Although employees can pursue claims with the bankruptcy court, the bankruptcy court may limit what claims survive. Even if you can bring a claim to the bankruptcy court there is no guarantee you will receive your wages.
Employment lawyers for unpaid wages in Texas
For these and many other reasons, it is important that you act quickly when you discover unpaid wages. If you believe you have not received your full wages you should seek the counsel of an employment attorney. Learn more about how unpaid wage lawyers in Texas can help you recover what you are owed.