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House Bill threatens unpaid wage claims in Indiana

Wage theft is a horrifying prospect for any hard-working employee. For some people, every penny counts, and not being paid the money they are owed can have devastating effects on their lives and well-being. Fortunately, residents of Indiana have the benefit of powerful legislation surrounding wage claims. In the event that they are not paid on time, or paid less than they should be, individuals are able to claim as much as three times the amount owed in addition to reasonable attorney's fees.

Despite the efficacy of this system, the Indiana General Assembly is currently in discussion over a new bill. House Bill 1126 would overturn the current employment litigation, diminishing employer liability to twice the amount of wages owed. Attorney’s fees would be paid from that amount.

The introduction of this bill could mean that pursuing an unpaid wage claim seems less worthwhile to the employee involved. This would reduce the power of these employment laws as a deterrent for companies who might otherwise treat their workers unfairly. The prospect of legal fees and the uncertainty of adequate repayment could mean that fewer people pursue their unpaid wages, and corrupt employers are allowed to flourish.\

Currently, employee's rights in Indiana are very favorable, but even if they change under House Bill 1126, employees should not feel discouraged from seeking repayment. Wage theft is not something to be taken lightly, and its victims risk debt, poverty, and an inability to afford adequate care for themselves and their families. Consequently, many victims of wage theft become reliant on public aid whilst their employers thrive. Workers have a right to the wages they earn. It is only by seeking to reclaim that which they are owed that the problem of wage theft can be successfully combated.

Source: Indy Star, "Trouble for the unpaid worker," Fran Quigley, Feb. 14, 2014

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