Can an Employer Withhold My Paycheck if I Quit?
Receiving payment for your work is one of your fundamental rights as an employee. Whether you stay at your job, receive notice of termination, or choose to quit, this right remains valid. As such, your employer may not legally withhold your paycheck under any of these circumstances. Examining state and federal laws regarding final wages can help you understand your rights if you leave your job.
State and Federal Final Paycheck Laws
Georgia law permits employers and employees to agree on payment dates, provided the worker receives payment twice a month for two equal pay periods. Yet, while the law implies that an employer may not withhold a final paycheck indefinitely, the Georgia Code does not provide laws pertaining to final paychecks. As such, Georgia employers must adhere to federal regulations.
The Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to give former employees their final paycheck by the end of their next scheduled payday. Furthermore, employers must not deduct any fees from the last paycheck without the employee’s authorization.
What Should a Final Paycheck Include?
An employee’s final paycheck should include their last payment of the following:
- Regular wages
- Vacation pay
The federal Department of Labor (DOL) does not permit the employer to take deductions reducing the employee’s pay below the legal minimum wage or overtime pay in any given workweek.
What if My Employer Does Not Give Me My Final Paycheck?
If your regularly scheduled payday has passed and you have yet to receive your wages, you should contact your employer and request an explanation. Sometimes such incidents are the result of processing issues or accounting errors. In such cases, your employer should be able to rectify the situation swiftly.
However, if an explanation is not forthcoming or is unsatisfactory, you should file a complaint with either the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division or Georgia’s labor department. If the WHD investigates your claims and discovers evidence demonstrating that your employer failed to compensate you for your work hours, you will receive payment. However, WHD regulations only require you to receive at least minimum wage for your work hours, so they cannot guarantee the receipt of any wages beyond that amount.
Can I File a Lawsuit to Recover Unpaid Wages?
Georgia law permits you to file a wage lawsuit against your employer for failing to issue your final paycheck. To prepare for a lawsuit, you should maintain all records of the hours you worked during your last pay period. It is also helpful to gather statements from colleagues who can verify that you were at work during the hours for which you did not receive payment.
In most cases, you must take legal action within two years of the date your employer violated the FLSA. In cases of willful violations, you have three years to file your suit. You might have additional legal claims with shorter deadlines depending on your circumstances, so you should take action immediately. Failing to act in time may cause you to forfeit your right to claim backpay.
Contact an Experienced Employment Law Attorney
If you need to file a claim or take legal action against an employer who withheld your paycheck after you quit, contact an experienced employment law attorney today. The skilled and knowledgeable lawyers at The Vaughn Law Firm dedicate themselves to protecting workers’ rights, and we will fight to recover the payment you deserve. Call us today at 877-615-9495 or contact us online for a confidential consultation to learn more about how we can help you.