Hiring a lawyer can certainly be expensive, no matter what the reason. Costs will vary depending on the complexity of your issue. For this reason, you have to weigh how much you’re owed in unpaid wages or overtime against how much an attorney might cost. If your boss has shorted you $50, it might not be worth the subsequent legal costs to hire an attorney just to get $50.
This depends on how complex your case is. It also depends on how willing your employer is to respond to any legal attempt to get your money back. If you have sufficient evidence, you might be able to get a settlement within a few months, but a case can also take longer if your employer doesn't want to pay out or if you don't have evidence when you start your case.
An employer faces a penalty from the state each time they fail to pay an employee on time. Usually, the first violation is a flat fee, but any subsequent violations include a penalty charge and a percentage of the amount of money the employer withheld.