Compensation Purgatory: “We’ll pay you your wages when we get paid.”

Has your boss ever told you, “As soon as we get paid, you’ll get paid. The money’s coming – I promise! – just give me some time so I can make it right.” 

In our experience, despite that “promise,” those wages either never come at all, only a small portion of them are paid, and/or it takes waaaaay longer than it was supposed to. Meanwhile, you’ve got bills to pay, and no money to pay them, but your boss isn’t doing anything to take care of that side of things. In some ways it can be almost worse than just being fired – where you KNOW you’re not going to be paid any more – than to wait around, hoping and believing that the money you’ve earned is going to be coming your way. That’s why we call this “compensation purgatory” – it’s that in-between, that limbo. 

It’s not fair, it’s not right… and in many cases it’s illegal. The good thing is, more often than not, there is something that you can do about it. Often you can recover certain damages or penalties above and beyond just the amount that is owed to you.  

Also, don’t let the idea of attorney fees or fear of the process dissuade you – in states like New York, Colorado, and Georgia, as well as under federal law – the wage laws make the employer (i.e. your boss) pay your attorney fees, so firms like ours very often take cases on a “contingency” basis (meaning you don’t have to pay for fees out of your pocket – we just get paid for our efforts on the back end, if and when we make a recovery on your behalf). 

If you are still working for this company, two things to keep in mind. First, we highly encourage you to trust your gut and to heed the red flags. In our experience, interacting with hundreds of companies and thousands of employees, if there are payment delays and irregularities now, there are likely to be similar problems in the future. Sorry to tell you this, but there is a very good chance it ain’t getting any better down the road. Your boss may keep making you promises, but we just want to give you another perspective here – one that may not be as nice to hear, but may be more honest. 

Second, just so you know, retaliation is illegal. If you decide to pursue a wage claim against this company – for the wages and compensation you have already earned, mind you – they are forbidden by law from retaliating against you. If they respond to this claim by firing you, cutting your hours, demoting you, or otherwise changing your work status negatively, you would have an additional legal claim against them. Fortunately, because of this protection, more often than not we can work with employers to figure out how much you are owed and get it taken care of with the least amount of hassle. 

If you’ve ever not gotten your full paycheck – on time – because (your boss says) the company you work for hasn’t gotten paid by its customers (or investors, or wherever the money is supposed to be coming from), give us a call or reach out to us by email today. You deserve to receive the wages you have earned.