What's Your Unpaid Wage Claim Worth in Utah?

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

In Utah, state and federal laws determine how much you must be paid, when you must be paid, and more. If your employer has not paid you properly or on time, you may be entitled to recover not only your unpaid wages, but also penalties intended to punish your employer for wage theft. Below, we explain how to calculate what you are owed.

Unpaid Wages

In Utah, the state minimum wage is the same as the federal minimum wage: $7.25 an hour. If your city or county has a higher minimum wage, you are entitled to that amount.

To calculate your unpaid minimum wage, subtract what you were actually paid per hour from what you should have been paid per hour. For example, if you were paid only $5.25 an hour for your first three weeks of full-time work, you would be entitled to $2 an hour times 40 hours times three weeks, or $240.

In most states, including Utah, employers may pay a lower minimum wage to employees who earn tips, as long as the hourly wage plus tips adds up to at least the full minimum wage. (To learn more, see Utah Laws for Tipped Employees.)

Unpaid Overtime

Failing to pay the overtime premium is one of the most common ways employers violate wage laws. Under federal law, Utah employees are entitled to overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week.

You are entitled to overtime unless your employer can prove that you fit into one of the narrow exemptions to the overtime rules. The most common federal exemptions are for outside salespeople and “white-collar” employees who do professional, managerial, and administrative work and who have the authority to make relatively high-level decisions; see our overtime page for more information.

If your employer has failed to pay you for overtime, you are entitled to an extra 50% of your hourly rate. For example, if you are usually paid $10 an hour, you are entitled to be paid time and a half—$15 an hour—for overtime work.

Example: Jamal works at an electronics store, earning $10 an hour. He usually works 40 hours a week, but he picks up two extra 8-hour shifts in one week during the summer, when many of his coworkers are on vacation. For that week, Jamal is entitled to be paid $400 for his 40 regular hours at $10 an hour, plus $240 for his 16 extra hours at $15 an hour, for a total of $640 for the week.

Unpaid Breaks and Time Off

Utah employers are not required to provide rest breaks or meal breaks to employees. However, under federal law, you are entitled to be paid for the following, if your employer provides them:

  • any breaks of less than 20 minutes, and
  • any breaks during which you must perform any work (for example, if you have to eat lunch at your desk in order to cover the phones and accept deliveries).

To calculate your unpaid break wages, add up how much time you spent on shorter breaks that should have been paid or breaks that you had to work through. Multiply this extra time by your hourly rate. And don’t forget overtime: Breaks for which you should have been paid count as hours worked, which means they may push your total hours for the week above 40.

Penalties for Unpaid Wages

Federal and state law give employees the right to collect penalties for certain wage violations, if they win an administrative case or lawsuit. Some of these penalties are described below; additional penalties may be available.

If your employer violates the federal minimum wage or overtime laws, you have the right to request liquidated damages in an amount equal to your unpaid wages. In other words, if your employer fails to pay you $4,000 in overtime, you can request another $4,000 in liquidated damages, for a total award of $8,000.

If you file a wage claim with the Utah Labor Commission for unpaid wages, the Commission can require your employer to pay you a penalty of 2.5% of the amount you are owed, for every day you remain unpaid (but not more than 20 days). If you file a lawsuit instead, the court can award you a similar amount.

A special penalty is available for final paycheck violations. Utah law requires your employer to give you your final paycheck immediately upon terminating your employment. If your employer fails to pay you on time, you are owed wages for each day that you remain unpaid after you make a written demand for payment, just as if you were still working. The maximum penalty is 60 days' wages. You must file this type of claim within 60 days of making your demand.

Filing a Lawsuit

If your employer failed to pay you all of the wages you earned, you can file a wage claim with the Wage Claim Unit of the Utah Labor Commission. Your claim must be for at least $50 and not more than $10,000. You have one year to file a wage claim. If your claim falls within these limits, you must file a wage claim before going to court.

For violations of federal wage laws, including overtime, you have two years to file a lawsuit. If the violation was willful, the deadline is extended to three years. Additional deadlines may apply for lawsuits under state law.

As you can see, there are multiple time limits that apply to wage claims in Utah, and your deadline for making a claim may be as short as 60 days. If you plan to go forward with a lawsuit or a wage claim, talk to an experienced Utah wage and hour lawyer right away.

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