The vast majority of employers pay employees on time and using proper calculations. Of course, problems can and do arise in this area. When an employer fails to pay, or calculates pay incorrectly, the consequences can be rather severe if the employer does not take quick action to correct the problem. This post will briefly outline a few of the most common ways an employee may initiate wage claims against an employer in Minnesota.

Informal Notice and Demand for Wages

For a terminated or laid-off employee, wages earned at the time of discharge are immediately due to an employee upon demand. The demand must be in writing, but there is no required form. Nor must it precisely set forth the wages due. Failure by an employer to pay such wages within 24 hours constitutes a “default” by the employer that subjects them to an additional penalty. The penalty is that, for every day in default, an employee must also pay an additional day’s wages to the employee, up to 15 days total.  Minn. Stat. §§ 181.11 & 181.14.

For an employee who quits or resigns, wages earned are generally due by the next scheduled pay period, unless contracted to otherwise. Upon demand, payment is due in the same manner as specified for terminated or laid-off employees.

Government Agency Charge or Complaint

At the Minnesota state level, the Department of Labor and Industry (“DLI”) and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (“MDHR”) both bear significant responsibility for investigating and remedying complaints pertaining to employment issues. For general purposes of this discussion, the DLI handles claims relating to overtime and minimum wages (under the MN Fair Labor Standards Act or “FLSA”) or timeliness and method of payment of wages (under the MN Payment of Wages statute) and the MDHR handles employment matters relating to claims of discrimination (under the MN Human Rights Act or “MHRA”). Our discussion is limited to wage issues through the DLI.

Governed by the relevant statutory act and the Minnesota Administrative Rules, employees may begin investigations into alleged violations of the relevant laws and bring contested cases through a process similar to initiating court claims. Penalties, including criminal penalties, apply for violating certain applicable wage payment laws or for obstructing the DLI in its efforts to ensure compliance. In addition to ordering monetary relief consistent with statute, the DLI can issue compliance orders and monitor employers to ensure no future violations occur and bring an action in district to enforce such orders.

The DLI commissioner can order the employer to pay all amounts due to an employee, plus an additional amount equal to the wages due as liquidated damages. The DLI can also impose a civil penalty, beyond the wages due, up to $1,000 per violation for repeated or willful violations and obtain reimbursement from the employer for litigation and hearing costs associated with the DLI proceedings.

Court Claims

Finally, in Minnesota an employee can proceed directly to district court on an employment claim for, among other things, failure to pay wages promptly or completely. A district court will have authority to order any of the other remedies available at law. In addition, attorney’s fees are mandatory in a court action in which an employee succeeds on their wage claims.

This is only a broad overview of a few options available in the context of wage claims. If you are an employee who has been wrongly denied wages or other benefits owed to you, contact Wilson Law Group for a free consultation to help determine a course of corrective action. The attorneys at Wilson Law Group can advise you concerning your rights and help you get back the benefits or wages you may have been denied.

Similarly, if you need advice concerning employment decisions, including wage issues, the attorneys at Wilson Law Group can help. Wilson Law Group has the experience and knowledge to guide you through complicated business planning issues, including how to apply complex legal requirements to your particular circumstances. Having experienced representation is especially important if an employee initiates an agency complaint or a court action.