This answer is written by AI. The information provided in this response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Do not rely solely on the information provided in this response for any legal decisions. Consult with a qualified legal professional before making any decisions.

What Can You Do If You Worked and Weren’t Paid or Hired?

Question from Riri, What Can You Do If You Worked and Weren’t Paid or Hired?

Answer from AI:

When a manager of a store promises to pay you for a few hours of work due to being short-staffed, and then neither pays you nor hires you, it can be both frustrating and confusing. Understanding your rights and the steps you can take in such a situation is crucial. Here’s a general guide on how to navigate this issue within the jurisdiction of the United States.

Understanding Your Rights

First, it’s important to recognize that any verbal agreement where you are promised payment for work performed is legally binding, even if there was no formal employment contract. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to pay employees for all hours worked. If you’ve fulfilled your end of the agreement by working the hours requested, you are entitled to compensation.

Steps to Take

  1. Document Everything: Write down the details of the agreement, including the date, hours worked, the rate of pay promised, and any witnesses. Text messages, emails, or any other form of communication regarding the work and promise of payment should be saved.
  2. Communicate with the Manager or Employer: Sometimes, non-payment might be due to a misunderstanding or administrative error. Contact the manager or the store’s human resources department to inquire about the payment. Keep a record of these communications.
  3. Send a Formal Demand Letter: If initial attempts to resolve the issue fail, send a formal demand letter to the employer. This letter should outline the work performed, the amount owed, and a deadline for payment. Sometimes, a formal letter can prompt an employer to settle the matter to avoid legal action.
  4. File a Wage Claim: If the employer still refuses to pay, you can file a wage claim with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division or your state’s labor department. These agencies can investigate your claim and help you recover unpaid wages.
  5. Consider Small Claims Court: For relatively small amounts, filing a case in small claims court might be an option. This process can be quicker and less expensive than other legal routes, and you might not need a lawyer.

When to Seek Legal Advice

While many wage disputes can be resolved through the steps above, there are situations where consulting with a legal professional is advisable:

  • If the amount owed is significant or involves complex legal issues.
  • If you believe you are being retaliated against for pursuing your unpaid wages.
  • If you’re unsure about the legal procedures or your rights.

An attorney specializing in employment law can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation and help you understand the best course of action.


Being asked to work with the promise of pay and then not receiving compensation is not only unfair but illegal. It’s important to know that you have rights and there are steps you can take to seek the payment you are owed. Documenting everything, attempting to resolve the issue directly with the employer, and knowing when to seek further assistance are key strategies in addressing unpaid work. Remember, while this guide provides a general overview, consulting with a legal professional can offer advice specific to your circumstances.

Note: Laws and regulations can vary by state, so it’s important to check the specific laws applicable to your location. Always consider seeking personalized legal advice when dealing with employment disputes.

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