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Update: Indiana Senate makes changes to unpaid wages bill

It can be difficult to challenge an employer in the event of a breach of contract. Fears about job loss are weighed against the severity of the problems experienced by the individual. Changes to state legislation in Indiana dramatically affect employer liability in the case of wage disputes, as well as reducing the amount to be gained by employees who feel their employment contracts have been breached.

As we discussed last week, House Bill 1126 limits damages for unpaid wages to two times the amount of wages owed, plus legal fees. Since our last post, however, the Senate has made some changes to the bill in favor of employees. Specifically, employees no longer need to prove that their employer acted in bad faith. Rather, it is the employer's responsibility to show that they acted in good faith.

For example, the legislation allowed employees to be charged, from their wages, for any equipment used or training received. Fearing the abuse of this policy, the Senate limited the amount that could be charged to either one-quarter of an individual's wages or $2,500, whichever is the smaller amount. Although the bill might appear to favor employers, it ultimately has pros and cons for both sides.

Despite these changes to employment law in Indiana, residents should not feel discouraged from challenging their employers if they feel they have been unfairly treated. The employer has just as much responsibility to adhere to the employment contract as the employee does. As such, in the event of an employment dispute, it is important to know your rights and have the confidence to defend them. By ensuring that your claim is taken seriously, you can make the best effort to protect your own interests and to prevent further unfair treatment of others in your position.

Source: Indy Star, "Employers could pay less in lawsuits over unpaid wages," Barb Berggoetz, Feb. 20, 2014

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