Law & Legal & Attorney Human rights

Final Paycheck Laws and Related Questions

Many issues may crop up between employers and employees concerning the settlement of final paychecks. If both the employer and the employees know their rights regarding this; then it would help in a fair settlement. Below are a few questions that have been answered regarding final paycheck laws.

Q. What recourse does an employee who has been terminated have, if he/she has not received the final paycheck even after a week? This employee lives in Arizona.
A couple of options are available for the employee considering the above situation. The employee may consider lodging a complaint with the Industrial Commission of Arizona or file a petition in the court. If a petition is filed in the court, the employee may request for three times the wages owed. The final decision to grant this or not is taken by the judge (ARS 23-355). If a complaint is filed at the Industrial Commission of Arizona, the issue may be resolved earlier than what the court would have taken to resolve it, but one may not request for three times the wages. A complaint may be filed with the Wage and Hour Division of the Federal Department of Labor in the event that overtime or minimum wages have not been paid.

Q. Consider a situation where an employee has come to know that the company does not have COBRA and does not qualify for it. This employee has not received the final paycheck yet and the employer is asking him/her to sign an unclear form that states that the employee does not require COBRA coverage. Else, the paycheck would not be released. Is it legal for the employer to do so?
An employer should not hold back the paycheck due to the aforementioned reason. The employee may lodge a wage claim with the State Department of Labor if the employer does not release the check immediately.

Q. Before the final paycheck is issued; can an employer wait for the employee to sign a reason for termination form? Is this a legal practice? The employer is based in California.
As per the California Labor Law, the paycheck cannot be withheld by the employer due to the aforementioned reason. If the employee was terminated, the final paycheck would need to be given to the employee at the time of termination itself.

Q. Is it legal for an employer to hold back the employee’s final paycheck if the employee has not returned the uniform?
The employer may not hold back the final paycheck of the employee. However, the employee may be required to pay the employer the cost of the uniform. This the employer may get back by cutting the cost of the uniform from the final paycheck. He/she may let the employee know that such a deduction has been made.

Q. The employer had issued a final paycheck to the employee. However, this check was returned as unpaid by the banking institution due to lack of funds. The employer did not intend for this to happen. Now, should the employer pay a penalty?
Wages need to be paid on time. If the wages are not paid on time due to the aforementioned reason; it would be considered as an offence by law (though it was not intentional). It is most likely that the Labor board will ask the employer to pay the full fine.

It is important that the final paycheck is paid as soon as the employee quits the company. Failure to do so may lead to legal issues cropping up. Therefore, both the employer and the employees should be aware of their rights in this regard. Consulting an employment lawyer may help getting more information about this.

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