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Can I File a Wage Claim if My Employer Won’t Pay Me?

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Under New Hampshire law, an employee who has not been paid wages for work the employee has already performed can file a wage claim, either with the Department of Labor or in state court, for the unpaid wages. If the employee files a wage claim in state court, the employee may be awarded attorney’s fees to compensate the attorney who assisted the employee in filing the claim.

The New Hampshire statute defines “wages” as:

[C]ompensation, including hourly health and welfare, and pension fund contributions required pursuant to a health and welfare trust agreement, pension fund trust agreement, collective bargaining agreement, or other agreement adopted for the benefit of an employee and agreed to by his employer, for labor or services rendered by an employee, whether the amount is determined on a time, task, piece, commission, or other basis of calculation.

In other words, “wages” essentially means any form of compensation for work performed by the employee.

An employee may also be entitled to “liquidated damages” if the employer has “willfully and without good cause” failed to pay the employee wages as required under the statute. The phrase “willfully and without good cause” simply means that the employer has "voluntarily” refused to pay the wages despite having “knowledge that the wages are owed and despite financial ability to pay them.” However, an employer is not liable for liquidated damages when the failure to pay is an accident, based on the employer’s bona fide belief that he is not obligated to pay them, or otherwise by some mistake of fact.

The amount of liquidated damages will be one of the following, whichever is less: either (a) an amount equal to the unpaid wages, often referred to as “double damages,” or (b) ten percent of the unpaid wages for each day except Sunday and legal holidays upon which the employer fails to pay.

If your employer has failed to pay you wages that you are entitled to, you should consult an experienced attorney for help filing a wage claim. Please call us at (603) 288-1403 to see if we can help or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.