How can I get back wages paid to me?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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How can I get back wages paid to me?

I manage a non-profit coffeehouse and
am owed a substantial amount in back
wages. We were forced by the city to
vacate the building for reconstruction
by Oct 10th. What are my legal options
to get back pay from my employer which
includes a board of members?

Asked on September 26, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Why are you owed back wages? If it was due to the closure, then you are not actually owed anything--employees do not need to be paid while a business is closed. 
If owed unpaid wages prior to the closure, then your own option is to sue the board and/or individual members, who may in some circumstances (e.g. if wrongdoing can be shown) be personally liable. If the amount is enough to justify hiring an employment attorney (e.g. it's, say, more than $5,000 in wages), then do so, and the lawyer can determine who best to sue and file the action. If the amount less than, or more or less equal to, the cut-off for small claims court,  then you are probably best off filing in small claims court, in which case you should name the non-profit and the members to make sure you don't miss anyone--let any of them who are liable establish that for themselves. You can get instructions and sample forms for suing from the small claims court, either on-line and/or in person at the clerk's office.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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