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Top Questions on Loss of Wages

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) passed by the United States Congress in 1938 requires employers to keep accurate record of employee’s time on the job and to pay overtime wages in certain cases. The Act also empowers employees to file a suit to recover lost wages. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as well, employees may recover monetary loss suffered for violations of the Act. The damages would equal to — “Any wages, salary, employment benefits, or other compensation denied or lost to such employee by reason of the violation.” Often, incidents of wrongful termination, overtime, personal injury lead to claims for lost wages. Knowing the law and your rights are important when filing such claims. Below, Legal Experts answer top questions on loss of wages.

I deliver milk to a company that accused me of stealing doughnuts worth $.99. They are refusing to look into camera evidence. Unless I’m cleared I lose my commissions, which is the bulk of my wages. Do I have a claim for loss of wages?

If you are an employee “at will”, your company may terminate your services for any or no reason at all. You may claim damages for lost wages, past and future. However, while past wages are easy to calculate, the latter is harder to claim as the courts may not award you the total amount if you are able to continue working.

You may also claim lost benefits, which vary from employer to employer. Benefits may include life insurance, value of insurance and stock options or stock matching plans, employer contribution to retirement among others. Some employers may offer employee discounts, vehicle allowance, free lunches, etc.

Though rarely awarded, a wrongfully terminated employee may also claim compensation for emotional distress and be reimbursed for any psychologist’s bills furnished. You may also consider filing a slander suit, which too is hard to prove.

You may, of course, try persuading your employer to speak to the company you delivered milk to and ask them to look into the camera evidence. You may also request to be assigned to another location so that your commissions don’t diminish.

Can I file a counter-suit for loss of wages, threats, and harassing visits to my business from my mother who is demanding the money I personally owe her?

As your business is a separate entity, you would not be able to sue on behalf of your business. What you can do, however, is to sue for “intentional interference with business relations,” with your business as the plaintiff. To do this, your complaint must allege that protectable rights — prospective economic or contractual relationship — were violated. This allegation of fact must give rise to some “reasonable expectation of economic advantage,” whether or not the rights are enforceable by contract.

Also, you may allege that the actions were intentional and malicious and were meant to harm. The complaint must also allege and confirm with facts that the interference caused loss of prospective gain to the company, where absent the interference the plaintiff would have received the anticipated economic benefits.

Can an insurance carrier deny my wage loss claim if I have a letter from a doctor stating that I am temporarily disabled?

Your insurer is acting within rights to verify your medical records submitted by your doctor by having you examined by an independent doctor. If the independent doctor’s report tallies with that submitted by your own doctor, the insurer must award you the claim. It they fail to do so, you may appeal the denial.

A lawyer who was working to settle my case for pain and suffering said he is entitled to $2000 as per the 1/3 contingent fee agreement. Does contingent fee apply to wage loss benefits?

The lawyer may charge a contingent fee as part of his/her service only if the lawsuit is settled in the client’s favor, whether in court or as an out of court settlement. Typically, a percentage of the client’s net recovery would constitute the contingent fees. For example, if the total recovery was $6000, your attorney is entitled to $2000 if there is no contract to the contrary.

It is best to hire a loss of wages attorney to ensure that you receive the entire disability benefits for which you may be eligible. Experienced attorneys help you make sure you are able to recover a significant portion of you lost wages. For any further questions on disability benefits and recuperation of lost wages, write to Legal Experts.
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