What's Your Unpaid Wage Claim Worth in Wyoming?

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

In Wyoming, 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

You are entitled to be paid the highest minimum wage that applies where you work, whether federal, state, or local. Wyoming employees are entitled to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, because it is higher than Wyoming’s minimum wage of $5.15 an hour.

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, let’s say you received only $6 an hour for your first three weeks of full-time work. You would be entitled to an additional $1.25 an hour times 40 hours times three weeks, or $150.

In most states, including Wyoming, 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 Wyoming 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, Wyoming 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 hours you worked, you are entitled to an extra 50% of your hourly rate. For example, if you are usually paid $12 an hour, you are entitled to be paid time and a half—$18 an hour—for overtime work.

Example: Van works as a mechanic for a car dealership. He usually works 40 hours a week and earns $16 an hour. When the car company that supplies the dealership issues an urgent seat belt recall, the dealership is swamped. Van agrees to work ten hours a day for two weeks to help out. For those two weeks, Van is entitled to his usual $1,280 for 80 hours at $16 an hour, plus an additional $480 for his 20 overtime hours at $24 an hour.

Unpaid Breaks and Time Off

Wyoming employers are not required to provide any meal or rest breaks. However, if they choose to provide breaks, they must pay for the following under federal law:

  • any short breaks (less than 20 minutes) during the workday, and
  • any breaks during which you perform any work (for example, if you're required to eat lunch at your desk in order to cover the phones).

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 an additional $4,000 in liquidated damages, for a total award of $8,000.

Under Wyoming law, you are entitled to receive your final paycheck on the next regular payday after you quit or are fired. If your employer fails to pay you and you have to file a lawsuit to recover your wages, you can ask the court to order your employer to pay you 18% annual interest on the amount you are owed.

Filing a Lawsuit

If your employer failed to pay you all of the wages you earned, you can file a wage claim with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. You have two years to file a wage claim.

You may also file a lawsuit against your employer for unpaid wages. Under federal law, you generally have two years to file a lawsuit for unpaid wages. However, shorter time limits may apply to state law claims. Because there are multiple deadlines, you should talk to an employment lawyer right away. Memories fade, and records can get lost or disappear. It’s best to file your wage claim or lawsuit quickly, get any money you are owed, and move on.

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