First, send a letter to demand your final check. Sometimes, it is 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). You can use the sample letter in the Resource Box on this page.
If the letter does not work, you have two choices:
File a wage claim (there is no fee) with the Texas Workforce Commission, Labor Law Section.
- Wage claims have to be filed within 180 days (6 months) of when you should have been paid.
- A wage claim has to be signed in front of a Texas Workforce Commission staff (call before going to an office -- some will not witness your signature) or notarized (look in the yellow pages or at most banks). Curiously, when a company answers a wage claim, it doesn't have to be notarized or witnessed!
- Make sure to tell the agency if your phone number or address changes while you have a wage claim.
Go to Court. If you win, the court may order your boss to pay your lawyer's fees. Low-wage workers may be able to get free legal help. If you are owed less than $10,000, you can represent yourself without a lawyer in Small Claims Court. You will file in the county where your company has an office (usually where you worked). The Justice of the Peace in each county is also the judge for small claims court.
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.