The Indiana Wage Claims Statute and the Indiana Wage Payment Statute are separate laws that address the same issue. The statutes provide the procedure for payment of employees, but are to be used in separate and distinct circumstances, the Court of Appeals held last week.
In Hollis v. Defender Security Co., No. 49A02-1004-PL-464, Robert Hollis filed suit against his former employer for failure to pay wages in a timely fashion. The court said that in circumstances where an employee has been separated from his former employer, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, the procedure for a claim is the same. The former employee must file a claim under the Wage Claims Statute with the Department of Labor first and seek remedy from that body rather than filing in the court system right away.
The court held that when a current employee has a claim against his employer, the employee is allowed to file suit in the court system right away and pursue action under the Wage Payment Statute. The reasoning for this decision is to keep frivolous lawsuits by disgruntled former employees out of the court system. Should a former employee’s claim make it through the Department of Labor process, the complaint can then be taken into the courts. Because Hollis was separated from his employment at the time he filed suit, he should have pursued the claim within the Department of Labor and under the Wage Claims Statute, and it was because of this that his case was dismissed.