Statute of Limitations for Unpaid Wage Claims: Know Your Time Limits

Stressed Employee

If you've ever had a job where your employer didn't pay you properly, you know how frustrating it can be. Being paid for your work is not only a legal requirement but also a basic human right. Thankfully, the law is on your side. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state laws provide protection for workers who have been underpaid, misclassified, or not paid at all. However, there is a catch: you only have a limited amount of time to file a claim.

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is a legal deadline for filing a lawsuit. It varies from state to state and depends on the type of claim you're making. In the case of unpaid wage claims, the statute of limitations is the time limit you have to file a complaint with the appropriate authority, such as the U.S. Department of Labor or a state labor agency. You may lose your right to pursue a claim if you don't file within that time frame.

Federal Law

Under the FLSA, the statute of limitations for unpaid wage claims is two years from the date the wages were due. However, if your employer's violation was willful, the statute of limitations is extended to three years. If your employer intentionally failed to pay you what you were owed, you have an extra year to file a claim. It's important to note that the statute of limitations starts from the date the wages were due, not the date you discovered the violation.

State Law

Many states have their own wage and hour laws that may offer additional protection to workers. Some states have longer statutes of limitations than the FLSA, while others have shorter ones. For example, in California, the statute of limitations for most unpaid wage claims is three years. In New York, it's six years for unpaid minimum wage claims and three years for other wage violations. It's important to research your state's laws to know your rights.


Some exceptions to the statute of limitations may extend or shorten the time frame for filing a claim. For instance, if you were not paid overtime, the statute of limitations for that claim is two years under the FLSA. However, if you live in California, the statute of limitations for overtime pay is three years. Additionally, if you were under 18 when you were working, you may have longer to file a claim.

Nationwide Unpaid Wage Lawyers

In conclusion, understanding the statute of limitations for unpaid wage claims is essential for anyone seeking to recover their unpaid wages. If you have questions or concerns, contact Josephson Dunlap at (888) 742-7242 today to get started.

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