Employee; claim for wages or unlawful retaliation or discrimination; suit; judgment; costs and attorney's fees; failure to furnish wage statement; penalty.
(1) An employee having a claim for wages which are not paid within thirty days of the regular payday designated or agreed upon may institute suit for such unpaid wages in the proper court. If an employee establishes a claim and secures judgment on the claim, such employee shall be entitled to recover the full amount of the judgment and all costs of such suit, including reasonable attorney's fees. If the cause is taken to an appellate court and the employee recovers a judgment, the appellate court shall award reasonable attorney's fees to the employee. If the employee fails to recover a judgment in excess of the amount that may have been tendered within thirty days of the regular payday by an employer, such employee shall not recover the attorney's fees provided by this subsection. If the court finds that no reasonable dispute existed as to the fact that wages were owed or as to the amount of such wages, the court may order the employee to pay the employer's attorney's fees and costs of the action as assessed by the court.
(2) If an employee works for an employer that is not subject to the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act and such employee is aggrieved by a violation of section 48-1235, the employee may bring a suit against such employer in the proper court to recover the damages sustained by reason of such violation. If an employee prevails in a suit brought pursuant to this subsection, such employee shall be entitled to recover the full amount of the judgment and all costs of such suit, including reasonable attorney's fees. If the cause is taken to an appellate court and the employee recovers a judgment, the appellate court shall award reasonable attorney's fees to the employee.
(3) An employer who fails to furnish a wage statement under subsection (2) of section 48-1230 shall be guilty of an infraction as defined in section 29-431 and shall be subject to a fine pursuant to section 29-436.
(4) If an employee institutes suit against an employer under subsection (1) or (2) of this section, any citation that is issued against such employer under section 48-1234 and that relates directly to the facts in dispute shall be admitted into evidence unless specifically excluded by the court. If a citation has been contested as described in subsection (3) of section 48-1234, it shall not be admitted into evidence under this subsection until after such contest has been resolved.
Source:Laws 1977, LB 220A, § 4; Laws 1991, LB 311, § 2; Laws 2010, LB884, § 3; Laws 2014, LB560, § 5; Laws 2020, LB1016, § 4.
Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act, see section 48-1125.
An employee was not entitled to relief under this section when the employer had never provided the employee with compensation and there was no provision in an employment agreement providing for compensation or a regular date of payment. Mays v. Midnite Dreams, 300 Neb. 485, 915 N.W.2d 71 (2018).
A court has discretion to award attorney fees higher than the statutory minimum required under this section, and an award of fees above the statutory minimum does not depend upon the presence of employer's unreasonable defenses or vexatious counterclaims. Fisher v. PayFlex Systems USA, 285 Neb. 808, 829 N.W.2d 703 (2013).
An appellate court reviews a lower court's award of attorney fees under this section for an abuse of discretion. Fisher v. PayFlex Systems USA, 285 Neb. 808, 829 N.W.2d 703 (2013).
A party has no viable claim to a wage that has not yet been received. Law Offices of Ronald J. Palagi v. Howard, 275 Neb. 334, 747 N.W.2d 1 (2008).
In a wage claim brought under section 15-841 against a city of the primary class, there is nothing in the plain language of this section that requires an employee to plead a specific cause of action for attorney fees or to file a separate proceeding for attorney fees in order to receive an award of attorney fees under the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act. Rauscher v. City of Lincoln, 269 Neb. 267, 691 N.W.2d 844 (2005).
The Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act does not represent a very clear mandate of public policy which would warrant recognition of an exception to the employment-at-will doctrine. Malone v. American Bus. Info., 262 Neb. 733, 634 N.W.2d 788 (2001).
Employers will not be awarded attorney fees under the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act if the employer has not tendered an amount to the employee within 30 days of the employee's regular payday. Brockley v. Lozier Corp., 241 Neb. 449, 488 N.W.2d 556 (1992).
Unpaid wages means wages which are not paid within 30 days of the regular payday designated or agreed upon. Polly v. Ray D. Hilderman & Co., 225 Neb. 662, 407 N.W.2d 751 (1987).