Being impacted by unpaid wages from a former employer or a client is not not ideal. In fact, it’s actually stressful and leaves people often don’t know where to start with resolving it.
Writing a demand letter is a first step to resolving unpaid wages. This article offers tips for writing a letter and includes a sample one.
A demand letter outlines everything that is related to the fact that there are unpaid wages. It is the tool that anyone can use to register a complaint.
In this instance, the letter notifies the employer that legal action will be brought in small claims court if they do not pay the amount of unpaid wages owed either in full or in a payment arrangement.
The letter includes:
- A summary of the situation that resulted in this outcome
- The amount owed
- Any due date for these wages (if applicable)
- A settlement amount if willing to take less
- An explanation why wages are owed in full if not willing to settle
- If the employer does not respond to the letter, the next step is to file it with the court clerk
Since a letter is used in the legal process, it is important for it to remain as neutral and factual as possible.
Draft the letter and go back over it to ensure it does NOT contain:
- Any threatening or disparaging language
- Words that express frustration or anger
- Anything that comes across as adversarial or negative
The point of this letter is to get the employer or client to pay what is owed. If the letter is used in small claims court, a judge will also read it. So it shouldn’t contain anything that may inadvertently hurt your case.
The following sample letter is short and under 300 words. While there is no limit on how long a demand letter should be concise and to the point is always best.
Sample Demand Letter for Unpaid Wages
Your Street Address
Your City, State, and ZIP Code
Your Employer’s Name
Your Employer’s Street Address
City, State, ZIP Code
Dear [Insert Employer’s Name Here]
I am writing this letter in regards to my [employment or contract] which [ended or was terminated] on [date]. As of this date, wages in the amount of [amount] are owed to me. I request that payment be made in full five business days from the date that this letter is received.
If a payment or payment arrangement is not made by this due date, I will take legal action. If this request for wages owed becomes a legal matter, you may be held liable for attorney’s fees and court costs related to the attorney I will need to hire in order to file a lawsuit to get the wages I am owed. You may also be required to pay a penalty in the form of additional funds and legal interest as required.
If you believe that the amount owed is to me is different than the amount described, you are required by law to pay me the amount you believe is owed to me. The reason for the amount paid should be included with the payment.
Please send the payment to my attention at the following address [address].
Other Things to Note
Check the applicable laws for your state. You may want or need to do more depending on what your state laws say regarding employment. Another option to take in addition to writing a letter is to check with the Department of Labor in your state to determine how they handle unpaid wages.
Be sure to have documented proof of any agreements for wages to be paid and the situation that caused the firing or resignation. While this is not necessarily required to write a letter or pursue a case against the employer, your case is always strengthened by documentation.
If you are not comfortable with writing the letter yourself, find a lawyer or legal service that helps people in these situations draft letters like this one. It also does not hurt to do your research.
Look into what your options are in this situation and what to expect if you decide to go another route. The important thing to remember is that you do have options. Do not be afraid to exercise them in order to get the money you are owed.