Unpaid Wages, Wage Claims and Overtime in SC

A typical employee/ employer relationship functions by an employee completing an agreed set of tasks for compensation. However, sometimes employers refuse or fail to pay their employees in a timely fashion. Under South Carolina’s Payment of wages act, Labor Standards Act and South Carolina common law, employees in South Carolina have the right to be paid and to be paid that amount in a timely fashion.

It could be that the employer claims to not have the funds, it could be a wage variance or discrepancy. Some disreputable employers intentionally miscalculate or manipulate hours or wages to lower the payment amount. Some, albeit a miniscule amount of, employers are simply flighty and forget to pay their employees due to strict negligence, ie not transferring monies to the proper account or forgetting to run payroll. Whatever the cause of the employer’s negligence, it is unlikely that employees seek legal counsel or advice regarding the negligence. It is far more likely for the employee to either speak directly to their superior or quit the job.

Running a small business is rough; sometimes payment delay can be due to a cash flow issue. An employer/owner could be undergoing personal financing issues and raid the business’s coiffers (operating accounts) to fund personal financial obligations. Many small businesses do not have revolving lines of credit or large loans to cover times of financial turmoil. If the small business’s customers/clientele haven’t paid their invoices- the owner/employer may not be financially buoyant enough to cover expenses in the meanwhile.

Whatever the situation may be, the employee has the right to be paid the amount owed, and to be paid on time in South Carolina. South Carolina’s laws protect employees. But how do employees protect themselves? We suggest the following precautions:

  1. Keep track of your time: While it may be company policy to clock in/out using a program/ time card/ computer system, it should also become practice for you to keep a personal record of your time spent working. That way, if any allegations of alteration are made, the employee has documentation of their hours worked.
  2. Paper trail: Do not simply have candid discussions about important wage matters. Document everything. Write your employer a letter, if you want to be extremely cautious, for whatever reason, send it certified mail. Depending on your location, it may even be legal for you to record the conversation. Consult with an attorney prior to recording any conversation for legal purposes. That way, if any discrepancies arise, there is documentation.
  3. Keep copies: You should make a copy (or two) of any agreement made between you and another party. Employment law vs. Contract law is determined in the agreement. How to proceed legally is based on whether it is a breach of contract claim or an employment/wage claim.
  4. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING: It simply cannot be said enough. Without documentation it is your word vs. their word. Would your employer lie? Not the same employer that failed to get you medical attention after you suffered an accident on the job, were injured as a result of the accident, fired as a result of the injury- and then refused to pay your last check. Would your employer do that? I hope not, but these employers do unfortunately exist.
  5. Use common sense: Don’t keep working for an employer who has not paid you- at all or in full in weeks or months. Don’t wait to consult legal counsel, statutes of limitations put a relatively short time limit on wage claims.

Should you have further questions, or wish to consult with an attorney, our office handles wage claims, pay discrepancies, and other employment matters. We offer free consultations, and serve the South Carolina Low Country including; Beaufort, Jasper, Colleton,and Charleston Counties.

Hilton Head Office
22 New Orleans Rd #1
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Mailing Address
Post Office Box 7228
Hilton Head Island, SC 29938

Telephone: (843) 686-5500
Facsimile: (843) 686-5501
E-mail Zach Naert
E-mail Joseph DuBois joe@lowcountrylegal.com