First, send a letter to demand your final check. Sometimes, it's enough to make bosses pay when they realize that a worker will fight for their pay. It is best to use Return Receipt Requested, so that you can prove you sent it. (The Post Office can show you how.) Go to the Resource Box on this page for a form letter you can use.

If the letter doesn't work, you have two choices:

File a wage claim (there is no fee) by calling the NC Department of Labor from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday thru Friday.If a group of workers are owed wages, they can file together. You have to wait 10 days after the payday when you should have been paid before you can file a wage complaint. They won't take a wage complaint for less than $50.Make sure to tell the agency if your phone number or address changes while you have a wage claim. When you call, have this information ready:

Company contact information:

  • Name of the business that owes you wages
  • Who they should contact at the company:
  • Name
  • Title
  • phone number
  • mailing address
  • email address

Your contact information:

  • Name
  • Mailing Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address (if you have one that you check regularly)

Go to Court. If you win, the court may order your boss to pay your lawyer's fees. If you are a low-wage worker, you may be able to get free help at a legal clinic or legal services. If you are owed less than $5,000, you can file in Magistrate's Court (also called Small Claims Court) without a lawyer. You will file in the county where your company has an office (usually where you worked). If you go to Magistrate's Court, you cannot file a wage claim later. If you file a wage claim first, you can still go to court afterward.

If you have a union, you have more rights than non-union workers and your union can help protect your rights more effectively than the law. Contact your union steward or representative. They should help you even though you aren't working there anymore, because you are owed pay from when you were working there when you were protected by the union contract.

Independent contractors can't file wage claims. They can go to small claims court if they aren't paid. If you are just called an independent contractor  so your boss can avoid the laws protecting you, you may be able to prove that you are really an employee (NOT an independent contractor) and win your rights and sometimes back pay, unemployment, or workers comp.