What recourse does an employee have when and employer decides to stop paying his or her wages?
The employer obviously has the bargaining advantage as it is not living paycheck to paycheck as employees often are, hiring an attorney to collect the unpaid wages is often times not cost-effective for the amount of wages owed, and because Nebraska is an at-will state, the employer can terminate the employee for any lawful reason. With that in mind, the Nebraska legislature set forth to try and level the playing field between employees and employers when it comes to unpaid earned wages, including commissions. The Nebraska Legislature created a potent weapon for Nebraska employees, namely, the Wage Payment and Collect Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-1228 et seq. (“the Act”).
Perhaps the single most effective portion of the Act allows for attorney’s fees and all costs of the suit to be paid by the employer no matter the amount of unpaid wages in controversy, as long as the employee establishes a claim and secures judgment on that claim. The Act also provides duties employers have to its employees, including statements employers must furnish if requested by employees and deadlines in which to do so. The Act even provides a punitive measure of double damages against the employer if it is determined that the employer was willful in its nonpayment of wages.