Frequently Asked Questions: How to File a Complaint
Q: I don’t think I’m being paid right. Can I file a complaint with the WHD?
A: Yes. While there are many employees that may be exempt from some provisions of the law, an employee covered by the FLSA who provides information that demonstrates the probability that they have not been paid the required federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009, or overtime (1½ times the regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a work week) may file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Q: What If I'm not sure I want to file a complaint? Can I find out what my rights are?
A: Absolutely! You can call or visit any Wage and Hour Office to ask about the laws or file a complaint. You can also call WHD's toll-free help line:
Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time
You may also call or visit the local office near you or send us an e-mail.
Q: Does it cost anything to file a complaint?
A: There are no charges to file a complaint or for the WHD to conduct an investigation. The Department of Labor is a federal agency and does not charge employees for its services.
Q: I haven’t worked for this employer for a while. How long do I have to file a complaint?
A: The FLSA contains a two-year statute of limitations (three-years for willful violations). This means that any part of a back wage claim which was earned more than two years before a federal court lawsuit is filed may not be collectible. To ensure we can complete our investigation before the statute of limitation expires, employees should file complaints with WHD as soon as possible.
Q: If I talk to someone at Wage and Hour, will it be confidential? I don’t want to lose my job.
A: All discussions with WHD are confidential. All complaints are confidential; the name of the complainant and the nature of the complaint are not disclosed. The only exceptions are: when it is necessary to reveal a complainant's identity, with his or her permission, to pursue an allegation; and when the WHD is ordered to reveal information by a court. You can find additional information about the investigative process at Fact Sheet 44.
Q: What if I don’t have all of the information you need? Do you have any suggestions?
A: Here are a Few Suggestions
- If you don’t have a permanent address, give us your cell phone number, or the number and address of a friend or family member who knows how to reach you.
- If you are not sure of the name of your employer, some suggestions are: take a picture with a cell phone or write down the license number of your employer’s vehicle; do the same for any company names on the vehicle. Do the same for other employers on the job. If you get a paycheck write down all the information on the check before you cash it. If you can, make a photocopy of the check or take a picture of it. Make a note of your job location by writing down the address.
- f there is no record of your hours or pay, start keeping one. Every day you work, write down the time you start and the time you finish. Write down if you took time for a meal break and how long the break was. Write down every time you get paid, with the date and how much pay you received. You can call any Wage and Hour Office and ask them to send you free copies of our AWARE record keeping handbooks. You can get as many as you need; enough for you AND your co-workers.
Q: Not everyone on my job has a green card. If I complain about my pay, will workers be reported to Immigration? Is everyone who works entitled to the minimum wage?
A: WHD will continue to enforce the FLSA and MSPA without regard to an employee’s immigration status. No employer should have an unfair advantage because he employs undocumented employees and doesn’t pay them. Look at the Fact Sheet on Undocumented Workers which is available in English Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese. It says the WHD will enforce pay for hours worked for covered, non-exempt employees.
Q: Some people on my job don’t speak English and they want to talk to you.
A: We Can Help! Some of our WHD staff are fluent in many languages. We also have available a language interpretive service which can assist with translation in more than 170 languages.
Q: Can you help me with my vacation pay?
A: If your work was only covered by the FLSA, we can only help with the requirements of the FLSA.
There are a number of employment practices which the FLSA does not regulate. For example, the FLSA does not require:
- vacation, holiday, severance, or sick pay
- meal or rest periods (other than breaks for nursing mothers)
- holidays off, or vacations
- premium pay for weekend or holiday work
- pay raises or fringe benefits
- a discharge notice, reason for discharge, or immediate payment of final wages to terminated employees
- pay stubs or "W-2"s.
The FLSA does not provide wage payment or collection procedures for an employee's usual or promised wages or for commissions in excess of those required by the FLSA. Also, the FLSA does not limit the number of hours in a day, or days in a week, an employee may be required or scheduled to work, including overtime hours, if the employee is at least 16 years old. However, some states do have laws covering some of these issues, such as meal or rest periods, or discharge notices.
The above matters, which are not covered by the FLSA, are generally by agreement between the employer and the employees or their authorized representatives.
If you worked on a federally funded construction, service or production contract, please contact us. We may be able to help with other labor requirements.