How to Collect Unpaid Wages

Updated March 23, 2017

An employee has the right to collect unpaid wages from an employer. Unpaid wages can be for overtime, a final paycheck not received or unauthorised deductions from your check. You can also to attempt to collect compensation for unused vacation hours that were not used by the end of your employment and unpaid business expenses. The process to collect unpaid wages varies by state, but there are similarities. If you are owed unpaid wages, there are steps that you can take to receive compensation.

File a request form with your company for your unpaid wages. Most companies have procedures to collect unpaid wages. You may be required to speak with your supervisor and file a formal form requesting unpaid wages. Maintain a copy of your request for unpaid wages. You may need this form as evidence of your request.

Send a certified letter to your employer demanding the unpaid wages. In the letter, include a specific date that you expect to receive payment. Although you may not receive payment through this method, the letter provides proof that your employer was aware of the request for your unpaid wages.

File a claim with your state's Department of Labor. The process for filing a claim for unpaid wages varies by state. The procedure for filing a claim should be available on the website for your state's Department of Labor. The claim form to collect unpaid wages may also be available on the website. In most cases, the claim form can be filed either by mail or in person.

File a small-claims suit for unpaid wages. If you are dissatisfied with the result of your claim with the labour board, file a small-claims suit. Each state has a limit on how much you can seek in a suit. Contact the justice of the peace or magistrate's court in your county for details on how to file a small-claims suit.


A claim with the labour board has to be filed within a certain period of time. The time frame varies depending on the type of unpaid wages and the state. Contact the labour board in your state for the amount of time you have to file a claim. Send copies instead of the original documents when filing a claim. The forms may become lost or damaged.

Things You'll Need

  • Evidence to support your claim
  • Employer's name and physical address
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About the Author

Maya Walker began writing professionally in 2008. Her articles have appeared on a variety of websites, covering technology, personal finance, music and health topics. Walker is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English at Stephen F. Austin University in Texas.