What's Your Unpaid Wage Claim Worth in South Dakota?

Learn how to calculate what you're owed in unpaid wages and penalties in South Dakota.

Has your employer failed to pay you minimum wage or overtime or failed to give you meal breaks? If so, you may be able to recover unpaid wages and other compensation from your employer. Below, we explain common wage violations in South Dakota, how to calculate your unpaid wages, and how to pursue your wage claim.

Unpaid Minimum Wage

South Dakota's minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage, so you are entitled to the state wage. If your city has a higher minimum wage, you are entitled to that amount.

If you didn’t receive the minimum wage, you can collect the difference between your hourly rate and the minimum wage for each hour worked. For example, if your employer paid you $1 less than the minimum wage for 120 hours of work, you would be entitled to $120.

Unpaid Overtime

Under federal law, South Dakota employers must pay employees time-and-a-half when they work more than 40 hours in a work week. (Exempt employees are not entitled to overtime pay. To learn more, see our article on which employees are exempt from overtime.)

If you didn’t receive the overtime rate, you can collect 50% of your regular rate per hour. For example, suppose you worked 45 hours during the week but only received your regular hourly rate of $10 per hour (for a total of $450). The last five of your hours should have been paid at the overtime rate of $15 per hour. So you should receive the difference of $5 per hour ($15 - $10) for five hours, for a total of $25 extra per week.

Meal and Rest Breaks

South Dakota does not have any laws pertaining to meal or rest breaks. However, federal law requires that employees must be paid for any breaks of 20 minutes or less or any breaks during which they are not completely relieved of their duties. For example, if you’re required to eat your lunch at your desk to wait for a delivery, you must be paid for that time.

To calculate your unpaid wages, add up:

  • any breaks of more than 20 minutes that you were required to work through, and
  • any breaks of 20 minutes or less, whether you worked through them or not.

This time counts are hours worked, for which you must be paid. If the additional time results in overtime, you must be compensated at your overtime rate.

Other Common Wage Violations in South Dakota

South Dakota employers must also follow several other wage and hour requirements under federal and state law. Here are some other common wage violations by employers:

  • failing to pay you for work performed before you clock in or after you clock out
  • failure to pay earned bonuses or commissions
  • failure to provide a final paycheck on time, and
  • unauthorized deductions from wages, such as for the cost of uniforms or equipment, for cash shortages, or for property damage.

Penalties for Wage Violations in South Dakota

Federal law allows employees with minimum wage or overtime claims to collect an additional sum called “liquidated damages.” Liquidated damages are intended to compensate you for the delay in payment of your wages. You can collect 100% of your unpaid wages as liquidated damages. For example, if you are owed $1,000 in unpaid minimum wage and overtime, you can collect another $1,000, for a total of $2,000.

Under South Dakota law, employees can recover double their unpaid wages if their employer is found to have acted fraudulently or maliciously in refusing to pay their wages. If you win your case, you might also be able to collect reasonable attorneys’ fees and legal costs.

Filing a Claim for Unpaid Wages in South Dakota

If your employer failed to pay you minimum wage—or at all—you may file a wage claim with the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. The Department does not accept claims for failure to pay overtime, vacation pay, bonuses, or other sums owed to the employee. You generally have two years to file a wage claim or lawsuit under South Dakota law.

You may, however, file a wage complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor for violations of federal wage and hour laws, including overtime violations. You typically have two years to file a wage claim or lawsuit under federal law (this is extended to three years if your employer willfully violated the law).

As you can see, there are multiple deadlines that may apply, depending on what type of claim you have. To ensure that your claims are not time-barred, it’s best to file your claim or lawsuit as soon as you know your employer has violated your wage rights.

Hiring a Lawyer

You don’t need to hire a lawyer to file a claim with the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation, although you may do so if you wish. Filing a lawsuit in court is a much more complicated process though, so you should consider hiring an employment lawyer, especially if you are claiming a large amount in unpaid wages. If you’re not sure which is the best route for you, consult with a lawyer first.

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