Can I sue my former employer for not giving my paycheck? 10 Answers as of March 27, 2013

I recently got fired from an Internet cafe for forgetting to turn on the alarm. It was an honest mistake. They only have 3 employees including the manager and the café was open seven days a week. I've done a lot for them. I am an honest person and they told me that I was to not come onto the property again and that they would mail me my check. They said they were going to have to change the locks since I had keys. Well 5 days later, I'm waiting for my check and it hasn't come yet so I called. The owners were not there. I spoke with the manager and she knows nothing. I got no call back the next day. The same thing happened the day after. I called back on the third day and the owner’s wife answered and said that her husband needs to talk to me. He said her husband would call me back but he didn’t. When I finally got him on the phone, I told him I need my check. He answered that I and another person were staging a robbery. There was no other person involved that I know of. I have never talked to someone before leaving. He said they're using my paycheck to pay for their new locks for the entire place. I worked hard for that money and did nothing wrong there and that was my rent for the month so now I have to worry about my bills.

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Nancy Wallace, Attorney at Law
Nancy Wallace, Attorney at Law | Nancy Wallace
FIRST, GET OFF THE PHONE. You cannot use one bit of the information or lack of responses in all these worthless telephone calls. PUT YOUR REQUEST FOR YOUR CHECK in writing, fax it and mail it. Don't do 'gone with the wind' (like this question). Just state you worked certain hours on certain dates, you were let go on a certain date, the company failed to provide payment upon notice of termination, and you need the check for those unpaid hours in hand or you'll be forced to submit the claim to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Don't repeat the stories about alarms and locks. The employer can terminate you for no reason at all, California being an 'At Will' employment state. But upon termination the employer IS required to present payment within a reasonable time. Presuming no payment will come, you file with the Div. of Labor Standards Enforcement: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/dlseWagesAndHours.html. THAT's the 'Labor Board' in common terms.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/27/2013
WILLIAM L SANDERS, ATTORNEY AT LAW | William L. Sanders
Yes, you may sue them. You should do so. They may not use your paycheck to pay for their new locks for the entire place. You should also report them to Wage and Hour Division (WHD) - U.S. Department of Labor http://www.wagehour.dol.gov/.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 3/26/2013
Law Office of Russell J. Thomas, Jr. | Russell J. Thomas, Jr.
An employer is required to pay the employee at the time of discharge all pay due up to that time. You should go to the nearest office of the State Labor Commissioner, otherwise known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, and file a Complaint. The Labor Commissioner will communicate with your employer and get you the money owed to you.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/26/2013
Law Offices of Charles R. Perry
Law Offices of Charles R. Perry | Charles R. Perry
Yes, you can sue. You can also pursue a claim before the CA Labor Commission. Since this is your final paycheck, it should have been given to you when you were let go. Since it wasn't you are entitled to penalties under CA Labor Code 203.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/26/2013
Lydy & Moan | C. Gary Wilson
You could potentially sue him in small claims court, but be prepared for him to file a counter claim against you for other matters you mentioned. You probably need to consult with an attorney before going further.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 3/26/2013
    Desmond, Strang & Scott, LLP
    Desmond, Strang & Scott, LLP | Jordan Scott
    Your former employer does not have the right to withhold your paycheck for this reason. This is probably a violation of the Massachusetts Wage Act. You should contact a private attorney or the Attorney General's office. This law provides for multiple damages and attorneys fees so it's probably worth pursuing.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 3/26/2013
    Law Office of Richard Winkler | Richard Winkler
    You do not say whether there was a break-in or anything was stolen. Assuming that did not happen, you are entitled to your paycheck (call the Dept of Labor) and you may also be able to collect unemployment if the hearing officer is not of the opinion that the firing was for good cause.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 3/26/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Call back and tell the owner to pay up or you will be filing a wage and hours claim.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/26/2013
    Law Office of Jack Longert, LLC | Jack Longert
    If you are in Wisconsin, and many of these posts that say they are from WI aren't, you can contact the Dept. of Workforce Development and file a wage claim. You can also hire an atty to sue. Depending on the amount of the lost wage, it could be in Small Claims Court. This is what I can tell you with the information given.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 3/26/2013
    Fox & Fox, S.C. | Richard F. Rice
    You should immediately return the keys you had to your former employer.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 3/26/2013
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