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November 2, 2008    DOL Home > ESA > WHD > FairPay > File a Complaint   

FairPay — Filing a Complaint for Back Wages Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Who Can File a Complaint?

  • Any nonexempt employee covered by the FLSA who believes that he or she has not been paid the required federal minimum wage of $5.85 per hour effective July 24, 2007; $6.55 per hour effective on July 24, 2008; and $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009, or overtime (1½ times the regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a work week) may file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Where Can a Complaint be Filed?

When Should a Complaint be Filed?

  • The FLSA contains a two-year statute of limitations (three-years for willful violations). This means that any part of a back wage claim which was earned more than two years before a federal court lawsuit is filed may not be collectible.
  • Accordingly, to ensure WHD can complete its investigation before the statute of limitation expires, employees should file complaints with WHD as soon as the violation occurs but no later than 18 months after the violation occurred.

What Information Must Be Included in a Complaint?

  • The employee's name, address, and telephone number (with the best time of the day to be reached);
  • Employee's job title and a description of the kind of work done;
  • Rate, method and frequency of wage payment — for example: paid weekly at $9.00 per hour or paid a salary of $900.00 twice each month ;
  • Number of hours actually worked each week;
  • A description of the alleged violation(s) — for example: my employer failed to pay overtime for extra shifts or failed to pay for time spent loading the truck ;
  • Date(s) of the alleged violation(s); and
  • The employer's name, address, telephone number and nature of business (for example : school, farm, restaurant , etc.).

What Happens When a Complaint is Filed?

  • WHD staff will review the complaint to determine if the complainant: (1) was/is a non-exempt employee performing work covered by the FLSA, and (2) may have been paid/not paid in violation of FLSA requirements.
  • WHD staff will contact the complainant if the information provided is insufficient to make these determinations or if permission to use the complainant's name during an investigation is required to pursue the investigation.
  • If the review provides a reasonable belief that a potential violation of the FLSA has occurred, which the WHD can rectify, an investigation of the employer will be scheduled.
  • If the WHD is unable to conduct an investigation or secure back wages as a result of an investigation, the employee retains the right to bring a private lawsuit in federal court to recover back wages.

How Can I Learn More About Federal Wage Requirements?

  • For additional information, visit the WHD Web site: and/or call the WHD toll-free information and helpline, available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in your time zone, 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243) .


Phone Numbers