What's Your Unpaid Wage Claim Worth in Kansas?

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

In Kansas, federal and state law determine how much you must be paid, when you must be paid, and more. If your employer has failed to pay you properly or in a timely fashion, you may be entitled to recover not only your unpaid wages, but also penalties intended to punish your employer for breaking the law. Below, we explain how to calculate what you are owed and how to assert your wage and hour rights.

Unpaid Wages

Employees must be paid at least the minimum wage per hour. You are entitled to be paid the highest minimum wage that applies where you work, whether that's the federal, state, or local rate. In Kansas, the minimum wage is the same as the federal minimum wage: $7.25 an hour. If the city or county where you work has a higher minimum wage, you are entitled to that amount.

To calculate your unpaid minimum wage claim, take the difference between what you were actually paid per hour and what you should have been paid per hour. For example, if your employer paid you $5 an hour for your first three weeks of full-time work, you would be entitled to $2.25 an hour times 120 hours (40 hours × three weeks), for a total of $270.

If you receive tips at your job, your employer can pay you a lower hourly wage, as long as you make enough in tips to bring your total earnings up to the minimum wage. In Kansas, employers may pay you as little as $2.13 an hour. However, if your hourly wages plus tips don't add up to at least the minimum wage, your employer must pay you the difference. To learn more, see Kansas Laws for Tipped Employees.

Unpaid Overtime

Failing to pay the overtime premium is one of the most common wage violations by employers. In Kansas, employees who are covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are entitled to overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. (Most employees are covered by the FLSA.) Employees who are not covered by the FLSA are entitled to overtime if they work more than 46 hours in a workweek. Such employees might include, for example, those who work for very small, local employers or those who work on small farms.

Not all employees are entitled to earn overtime for extra hours. While hourly, nonexempt employees have a right to overtime, other categories of employees are exempt. The most common exemptions are for outside salespeople and “white-collar” employees who do professional, managerial, and high-level administrative work (see ourovertime page for more details and exemption categories). Unless your employer can prove that you fit into one of these narrow exemptions, you are entitled to receive overtime.

If your employer has failed to pay you for overtime hours, your unpaid wages are the difference between what you should have been paid and what you were paid. For overtime hours, employees are entitled to time-and-a-half. This means that you are owed an extra 50% of your hourly rate, on top of your regular pay. For example, if you are usually paid $12 an hour, you must be paid $18 an hour for overtime work.

Example: Javier works as a salesperson in an electronics store, at a rate of $11 an hour. He usually works 40 hours a week, but he picks up extra shifts during the summer when his coworkers are on vacation. If he works an extra eight-hour shift, he is entitled to $11 per hour for the first 40 hours ($440) and $16.50 for eight overtime hours ($132), for a total of $572 for the week.

Unpaid Breaks and Time Off

Neither federal nor Kansas law requires employers to provide employees with meal or rest breaks during the workday. However, if your employer chooses to give you time off during the day, you must be paid for:

  • any short breaks (20 minutes or less) during the workday, and
  • any time during which you must work, even if your employer calls it a break. For example, if an office receptionist must eat lunch at her desk in order to cover the phones and accept deliveries, she is entitled to be paid for that time – even if her employer calls it a “lunch break.”

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 in addition to the wages they should have been paid, if they win their administrative claims or lawsuits. Some of these penalties are described below; additional penalties may be available under state or local law.

In Kansas, you are entitled to receive your final paycheck (including all accrued, unused vacation time) on the next regularly scheduled payday after your employment terminates. If your employer fails to provide your final paycheck on time, you can receive a penalty of 1% of the unpaid wages for every day your employer is late (excluding Sundays and holidays), up to the amount of your unpaid final wages.

If your employer violates federal minimum wage or overtime laws, you have the right to request liquidated damages: money intended to compensate you for losses that are more difficult to quantify. You can receive an amount equal to your unpaid minimum wages or unpaid overtime.

Filing a Lawsuit

If your employer failed to pay you all of the wages you earned, you can file a wage claim with the Kansas Labor Department or file a lawsuit in court. (The Kansas Labor Department allows you to file a wage claim online.)

If you plan to move forward with a lawsuit or a wage claim, talk to an experienced Kansas wage and hour lawyer. A lawyer can file a wage claim on your behalf or file a lawsuit in court seeking to collect your unpaid wages. If you win your lawsuit, your attorney can ask the judge to make your employer pay your attorneys' fees.

If you plan to assert your rights, you should act quickly. The time limits for filling a complaint depend on your claim. For most violations of Kansas wage laws, you have three years to file. However, if you are seeking a penalty for your employer’s failure to provide your final paycheck on time, you have only one year to file. And, different time limits may apply to other claims you might have, such as a breach of contract claim.

For violations of federal minimum wage and overtime laws, you have two years from the date your employer violates the FLSA (or the date you learn of the violation) to sue or file an administrative claim. However, if your employer violated the law willfully, you have three years to file.

As you can see, the time limits vary and can be confusing. Talk to a lawyer right away if you are considering legal action. It’s best to file a claim quickly, before evidence disappears and memories fade.

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