More than 1,300 Wisconsin workers are owed more than $1.5M in back wages recovered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
A significant portion of that money remains unclaimed because some of the workers to whom back wages are due cannot be located. In many cases, the employees have changed jobs or changed addresses and cannot be notified of the money that is due them.
Name-changes or an employer’s failure to retain contact information can also make it difficult to find employees and put their recovered back wages into their hands.
The Wage and Hour Division can only hold unclaimed back wages for three years before they are required to turn it over to the Department of the Treasury. Despite their best efforts, much of this money remains unclaimed.
In an effort to reach out to more workers and help them claim the money they are owed, the agency has developed an online search tool — Workers Owed Wages (WOW) — that allows workers to enter information to find out if back wages are being held on their behalf.
The tool provides a quick and easy way for employees to find out if they are owed money and then arrange to receive it.
The WOW system is currently available in English and a Spanish. Last year, WHD also updated the WOW website to make it more user-friendly and offer ways to search the database, and also enhanced the site’s security.
Both the English and Spanish versions of the website allow workers and their advocates to answer a series of questions to determine if they are owed wages and to easily claim them. If there is money to be distributed, workers will be directed to the WHD office that can help them get their check quickly. Calls can be answered, confidentially, in over 200 languages.